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LSE monographs on social anthropology

The LSE MONOGRAPHS ON SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY were established in 1940 and are currently edited by Dr Laura Bear. The series features a number of classic anthropological titles, including books written by Edmund Leach, Fredrik Barth, Raymond Firth, Maurice Freedman and others. 

In recent years we have published new books by leading contemporary anthropologists including P. Steven Sangren, Maurice Bloch, Henrietta Moore and Alfred Gell.

Selected Recent Titles

Ordinary Ethics in China

Charles Stafford (Ed)

Ordinary Ethics in China book coverDrawing on a wide range of anthropological case studies, this book focuses on ordinary ethics in contemporary China. The book examines the kinds of moral and ethical issues that emerge (sometimes almost unnoticed) in the flow of everyday life in Chinese communities.

How are schoolchildren judged to be good or bad by their teachers and their peers - and how should a 'bad' student be dealt with? What exactly do children owe their parents, and how should this debt be repaid? Is it morally acceptable to be jealous if one's neighbours suddenly become rich? Should the wrongs of the past be forgotten, e.g. in the interests of communal harmony, or should they be dealt with now? In the case of China, such questions have obviously been shaped by the historical contexts against which they have been posed, and by the weight of various Chinese traditions. But this book approaches them on a human scale. More specifically, it approaches them from an anthropological perspective, based on participation in the flow of everyday life during ethnographic fieldwork in Chinese communities.

The book includes chapters by LSE faculty and former students including Laura Bear, Hans Steinmuller, Stephan Feuchtwang, Eona Bell, James Johnston and Daniel Roberts.

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Industrial Life and WorkIndustrial Work and Life: An Anthropological Reader

 Massimiliano Mollona, Geert De Neve, Jonathan Parry

Industrial Work and Life: An Anthropological Reader is a comprehensive anthropological overview of industrialisation in both Western and non-Western societies. Based on contemporary and historical ethnographic material, the book unpacks the 'world of industry' in the context of the shop floor, the family, and the city, revealing the rich social and political texture underpinning economic development. It also provides a critical discussion of the assumptions that inform much of the social science literature on industrialisation and industrial 'modernity'.

The reader is divided into four thematic sections, each with a clear and informative introduction: historical development of industrial capitalism; shopfloor organisation; the relationships between the workplace and the home; the teleology of industrial 'modernity' and working-class consciousness.

With readings by key writers from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, Industrial Work and Life is the essential introduction to the study of industrialisation in different societies. It will appeal to students across a wide range of subjects including: anthropology, comparative sociology, social history, development studies, industrial relations and management studies.

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The Individualization of Chinese Society

Yunxiang Yan

The Individualization of Chinese SocietyChinese society has seen phenomenal change in the last 30 years. Two of the most profound changes have been the rise of the individual in both public and private spheres and the consequent individualization of Chinese society itself. Yet, despite China's recent dramatic entrance into global politics and economics, neither of these significant shifts has been fully analyzed. China presents an alternative model of social transformation in the age of globalization; therefore, its path to development may have particular implications for the developing world.

The Individualization of Chinese Society reveals how individual agency has been on the rise since the 1970s and how this has affected everyday life and Chinese society more broadly. The book presents a wide range of detailed case studies focusing on the impact of economic policy, patterns of kinship, changes in marriage relations and the socio-economic position of women, the development of youth culture, the politics of consumerism, and shifting power relations in everyday life.

Exploring the rise of the individual in both rural and urban settings, The Individualization of Chinese Society provides a detailed overview of this major social phenomenon and its wider implications. 

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Questions of Anthropology

questions_of_anthropologyRita Astuti, Jonathan Parry, Charles Stafford

Anthropology today seems to shy away from the big, comparative questions that ordinary people in many societies find compelling. Questions of Anthropology brings these issues back to the centre of anthropological concerns.

Individual essays explore birth, death and sexuality, puzzles about the relationship between science and religion, questions about the nature of ritual, work, political leadership and genocide, and our personal fears and desires, from the quest to control the future and to find one's 'true' identity to the fear of being alone.

Each essay starts with a question posed by individual ethnographic experience and then goes on to frame this question in a broader, comparative context. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Questions of Anthropology presents an exciting introduction to the purpose and value of Anthropology today.

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Essays on Cultural Transmission

bloch_cultural _transmissionMaurice Bloch

This book brings together recent work by Maurice Bloch which explores the highly controversial territory between the cognitive and social sciences. The essays are of broad, theoretical interest and aim to combine naturalistic approaches to cognition with a recognition and respect for the cultural and historical specificity of ethnography. All the essays illustrate Bloch's characteristic approach to the relation between anthropology and cognitive science, where cognitive science is used to criticize anthropological assumptions concerning such key topics as religion, kinship, belief, ritual, symbolism and art.

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Between China and Europe: Person, Culture and Emotion in Macao

china_europeJoao de Pina-Cabral

From the mid-1500s to December 1999, Macao was the longest-standing site of economic, religious and political contact between the Chinese and European worlds. Yet this surprising capacity for survival has resulted, ironically, form the very weakness of the Portuguese presence. In particular, since the foundation of Hong Kong (in 1840), Macao had depended on a creative use of its marginality - as a centre for gambling, for the coolie trade, the opium trade, the semi-clandestine gold trade and so on. As a rear window on China, Macao provides us with fascinating examples of marginality that allow us to study the limits of the systems that characterize the Chinese world.

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More recent & forthcoming titles