The holistic person, or, the ideology of egalitarianism

David John Riches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past decade and more,Western practices bearing on social life have been marked by a turn against Cartesian dualism. In particular, sociological analysts, political activists, and many ordinary Westerners have come increasingly to advocate an appreciation of the person in terms of the mind-body construed as inextricably one. To account for this, comparative material from Inuit hunter-gatherers and the Western New Age movement is brought to bear. Using this material, the holistic person is interpreted as a discourse about individual moral frailty, ideologically pertinent in societies where egalitarianism of outcome is the dominant cultural ethos. This analysis is related to Giddens's account of 'late modernity', specifically as this is informed by 'life politics'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-685
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000




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