Purity and Danger
Is cleanliness next to godliness? What does such a concept really mean? Why does it recur as a universal theme across all societies? And what are the implications for the unclean?
In Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, a book first published in 1966, Mary Douglas identifies the concern for purity as a key theme at the heart of every society. In lively and lucid prose she explains its relevance for every reader by revealing its wide-ranging impact on our attitudes to society, values, cosmology and knowledge. This book has been hugely influential in many areas of debate – from religion to social theory – and this new edition comes with a specially commissioned preface by the author which assesses the continuing significance of the work. [publisher’s note]