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J., E. (1920). Psychology and Folk-Lore: By R. R. Marett, Reader in Social Anthropology in Oxford. (Methuen & Co. London, 1920. Pp. 275. Price 7s. 6d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:485-486.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:485-486

Psychology and Folk-Lore: By R. R. Marett, Reader in Social Anthropology in Oxford. (Methuen & Co. London, 1920. Pp. 275. Price 7s. 6d.)

Review by:
E. J.

The workers on Social Anthropology in Great Britain have from the beginning tended to fall into two groups, fathered by Tylor and Gomme respectively. At first they were distinguished under the names of the evolutionary and historical schools, but lately the latter have preferred to call themselves ethnologists and their rivals anthropologists; in the latter camp are Frazer, Hartland, and Marett, in the other Rivers and Elliot Smith. The original difference was over the relative importance of the process of diffusion of customs, etc., and of parallel invention. The ethnologists maintain that the chief difference now is one of method, but Marett shows here, convincingly, as we think, that it is primarily one of interest. The ethnological method of study is to investigate the social settings and historical origin of the given rite or custom, postponing, rather indefinitely, the problems of psychical meaning. Their interest is essentially sociological, that of the other school psychological. There is no doubt about which line of work has the greater interest to the psycho-analyst. For him the problems of psychological meaning are of primary importance, and even when it can be shown that a given custom has been historically transmitted from one nation to another this bald fact only raises for him the more interesting question of how the second nation came to select and assimilate just this particular custom rather than another, i. e. what was there already present in them that led them to give the custom meaning. The difference reminds one of the schools of psychopathology, the one displaying a rapturous interest in the discovery that a symptom in an hysterical patient has been acquired by imitation, the other regarding it as merely the starting-point of their investigation.


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