Mauss, Marcel

Marcel Mauss (1872–1950), Émile Durkheim’s nephew and a pillar of the French school of sociology, is an eminence whose works, paradoxically, remain largely unknown. In the sociology of religion, he is seldom cited, apart from superficial referrals that tend to conflate him and his famous uncle. One reason for this is that Mauss’s works lack the systematic and propositional nature of Durkheim’s. Another reason is that Mauss published most of his works as essays rather than books, and some of his projects, such as his thesis on prayer, remained unfinished. It is perhaps insufficiently well known that Durkheim’s revelation about the importance of religion for the understanding of human societies is due to the course on the history of religion which he designed for Mauss ...

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