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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.