L’Année sociologique  2012/1

L’Année sociologique

2012/1 (Vol. 62)


doi 10.3917/anso.121.0093

publisher P.U.F.

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Cultural or Social Anthropology? A Transatlantic Argument

Page 93-122



How did the expression « social anthropology » become pre-eminent in French academy? Why was « cultural anthropology » not successful in France? The answer seems to be in the lineage leading from Durkheim to Lévi-Strauss through Mauss. However, this explanation makes little case of an important debate -in which Lévi-Strauss was involved- between British and Americans about the nature of the anthropological discipline in the 1950s: should anthropology be cultural or social? Is social anthropology really a part of « anthropology »? Or is it simply sociology? In France and the uk, supporters of social anthropology were victorious, even if Lévi-Strauss departs paradoxically from sociology when he takes structural linguistics as a model. In the United States, anthropology remained mainly « cultural », that is to say open to psychology, archeology, geography, technology, history, aesthetics and the humanities in general.


  • anthropology
  • culture
  • Lévi-Strauss
  • scientific controversy
  • sociology

To cite this article

Erwan Dianteill "Anthropologie culturelle ou anthropologie sociale ? Une dispute transatlantique", L’Année sociologique 1/2012 (Vol. 62).
URL  www.cairn.info/revue-l-annee-sociologique-2012-1-page-93.htm
DOI  10.3917/anso.121.0093.

See also

In the same collection
‟What humanities and sociales sciences can learn from other disciplines?″

The Future of the Humanities
Why Hasn’t Philosophy Capitalized on Psychoanalysis?
“Giving, receiving, and reciprocating” the Proper Name
Lévi-Strauss, Lacan, and the Symbolic Order
What Philosophy for What Mathematics?
The Spiritual and the Psychological

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