Margaret Mead as born in 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were both sociologists, so it’s no surprise that she became one too. Mead received her education at Barnard College and Columbia University. After completing her studies, she began a career as an anthropologist that would span more than 50 years.
During her long career, Mead made many significant contributions to the field of anthropology. She was the first anthropologist to study Samoan culture, and she also did ground-breaking work on adolescence.
Mead’s book “Coming of Age in Samoa” was based on her study of Samoan adolescents. She found that the concept of adolescence is a cultural construct, and that angst and rebellion against authority are not universal features of teenage life. Mead’s work challenged traditional views about adolescence, and it has been hugely influential in the field of anthropology. Her findings have also been applied to research on adolescent behavior in other cultures.
Margaret Mead also wrote other well-known books, such as “Male and Female” and “The Dynamics of Culture Change”. In “Male and Female”, Mead argued that the differences between men and women are not innate, but are instead the result of cultural conditioning. “The Dynamics of Culture Change” is a study of how cultures change over time.
Margaret Mead collaborated with several other anthropologists throughout her career, with the most notable being Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas. Together, they developed the “culture and personality” school of anthropology. This approach to anthropology stresses the importance of cultural context in understanding human behaviour.
Mead’s work has been highly influential and is highly respected within the field of anthropology. She is considered to be one of the most important anthropologists of the 20th century.
For Further Reading
- Jane Goodall – a pioneering primatologist
- Marshall Sahlins (1930 – 2021) – Race is a Social Construct
- Saba Mahmood – a strong voice in the anthropology of religion and post-colonialism
- Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Structuralism and its Influence on Anthropological Thought
- Clifford Geertz – the man who pioneered “thick description” in anthropology
- Ruth Benedict: The anthropologist who believed that cultures have personalities
- Michael Taussig – Doctor and Anthropologist
- Bronislaw Malinowski: The Father of Field Research
- Margaret Mead: A Pioneering Anthropologist
- Franz Boas: The Father of American Anthropology
- Émile Durkheim: The Father of Sociology and His Contributions to Anthropology
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