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L’Année sociologique

2012/1 (Vol. 62)

  • Pages : 256
  • ISBN : 9782130593331
  • DOI : 10.3917/anso.121.0093
  • Publisher : P.U.F.

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How did the expression “social anthropology” become pre-eminent in French academia? Why was “cultural anthropology” not successful in France? The answer seems to lie in the lineage leading from Durkheim to Lévi-Strauss through Mauss. However, this explanation takes scant account 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


  1. Introduction
  2. Before the Confrontation
  3. The War of the Anthropologists
  4. Anthropologists at Peace?
  5. How French Anthropology Became “Social”
  6. Conclusion

To cite this article

Erwan Dianteill, “ Anthropologie culturelle ou anthropologie sociale ? Une dispute transatlantique ”, L’Année sociologique 1/2012 (Vol. 62) , p. 93-122
URL : www.cairn.info/revue-l-annee-sociologique-2012-1-page-93.htm.
DOI : 10.3917/anso.121.0093.

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