Themes in French Culture: A Preface to a Study of French Community

Themes in French Culture: A Preface to a Study of French Community

Themes in French Culture: A Preface to a Study of French Community

Themes in French Culture: A Preface to a Study of French Community


Margaret Mead collaborated with her long-time colleague Rhoda Metraux in this unique study of French culture. The Hoover Institute at Stanford University originally published this volume, which grew out of the Columbia University project on Research of Contemporary Cultures in 1954. It is one of the few works by American social scientists dealing with broad themes of French life. Mead and Metraux present a vivid picture of the French starting with the organization of the house and its architecture, and drawing original conclusions for the structure of French families and overall cultural values. This work, long out of print, is a fascinating and penetrating portrait of a contemporary European society. Renee Fox, herself an expert on French culture, provides an introductory essay to the volume.


To celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Margaret Mead, Berghahn Books and the Institute for Intercultural Studies are proud to reissue in 2000-2001 a series of classic works. Written or inspired by Dr. Mead, the materials in these seven volumes investigate the study of contemporary Western cultures.

Most of the world today knows Margaret Mead through her earliest publications, Coming of Age in Samoa, Growing Up in New Guinea, Sex and Temperament, and numerous others that examine the peoples of the South Pacific, New Guinea, and Indonesia. Two decades after these pioneering works appeared, Dr. Mead had significantly turned to the study of the contemporary societies of Europe and the United States. Through this later work she gained her widest public audience and arguably became the best known cultural anthropologist who has ever lived. All of these works on contemporary culture, a number of which were originally issued in limited editions, have long been out of print.

The volumes in this series are being issued under the general title Margaret Mead: the Study of Contemporary Western Cultures. It is thought that this will provide a clear identification for the series. However, a more accurate title for the series might be Margaret Mead and Friends. Mead was a great collaborator; in the seven volumes that compose the series, dozens of her contemporaries are represented. One volume, Themes in French Culture: Preface to a Study of French Community for example, has as its primary author Mead’s close collaborator, the eminent anthropologist Rhoda Métraux, with Mead as second author. Another volume combines Mead’s study Soviet Attitudes toward Authority with Geoffrey Gorer and John Rickman’s The People of Great Russia, upon which Mead’s study heavily draws.

Mead as solo author is represented in her pioneering critique of American life, And Keep Your Powder Dry. the last three volumes in the series, likewise compilations of Mead’s solo writings, examine the methodology of studying contemporary cultures, the study of the future, and visual culture-all of which have lasting relevance for today’s researchers.

The first volume, The Study of Culture at a Distance, is in many ways a key to the entire series. This book, edited by Mead and Métraux, is a “manual” showing the research methodologies of the group of scholars that surrounded them in New York during the 1940s and 1950s. It could be argued that Mead - along with Métraux, Ruth Benedict, Gregory Bateson, and Geoffrey Gorer, among others - was instru-

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