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Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation



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HarperCollins Publications
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Customer Reviews

I really enjoyed this book  May 5, 2011

This textbook is a requirement for any student of Anthropology or anyone else who wishes to learn how to take data from interviews and other observations and put them on paper. It is certainly a pleasurable textbook to read. Margaret paints a picture of an approach to childhood that sets ours off in a not-too-flattering light-- it successfully questions the values of her own culture regardless of how well it captures Samoan culture. I picked up this used textbook by accident and found it surprisingly useful, deep, and intriguing. Recommended.

Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.


Rarely do science and literature come together in the same book. When they do -- as in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, for example -- they become classics, quoted and studied by scholars and the general public alike.

Margaret Mead accomplished this remarkable feat not once but several times, beginning with Coming of Age in Samoa. It details her historic journey to American Samoa, taken where she was just twenty-three, where she did her first fieldwork.

Here, for the first time, she presented to the public the idea that the individual experience of developmental stages could be shaped by cultural demands and expectations. Adolescence, she wrote, might be more or less stormy, and sexual development more or less problematic in different cultures. The "civilized" world, she taught us had much to learn from the "primitive." Now this groundbreaking, beautifully written work as been reissued for the centennial of her birth, featuring introductions by Mary Pipher and by Mead's daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson.

"Illuminating and interesting . . . Corroborates, through practical demonstration, the psychosexual theories promulgated by Freud and his pupils." - Dr. A. A. Brill

Author Biography

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) began her brilliant career when she visited Samoa at the age of twenty-three. She went on to become one of the most influential women of our time, publishing some forty works and serving as Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History as well as president of major scientific associations. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom following her death in 1978

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
Words for a New Centuryp. xi
Introduction to the Perennial Classics Editionp. xv
Forewordp. xxi
Preface to the 1973 Editionp. xxiii
Introductionp. 3
A Day in Samoap. 12
The Education of the Samoan Childp. 16
The Samoan Householdp. 29
The Girl and Her Age Groupp. 42
The Girl in the Communityp. 52
Formal Sex Relationsp. 61
The Role of the Dancep. 77
The Attitude Towards Personalityp. 86
The Experience and Individuality of the Average Girlp. 92
The Girl in Conflictp. 110
Maturity and Old Agep. 128
Our Educational Problems in the Light of Samoan Contrastsp. 135
Education for Choicep. 161
Notes to Chaptersp. 171
Methodology of This Studyp. 179
Samoan Civilisation as It Is To-dayp. 185
The Mentally Defective and the Mentally Diseasedp. 195
Materials upon Which the Analysis Is Basedp. 199
Sample Record Sheetp. 201
Table I. Showing Menstrual History, Sex Experience and Residence in Pastor's Householdp. 202
Table II. Family Structure, and Analysis of Tablep. 203
Intelligence Tests Usedp. 206
Check List Used in Investigation of Each Girl's Experiencep. 208
Index and Glossaryp. 211
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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