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The World Ahead: An Anthropologist Anticipates the Future
Volume 6

Margaret Mead: The Study of Contemporary Western Culture

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The World Ahead

An Anthropologist Anticipates the Future

Margaret Mead
Edited and with an Introduction and Commentaries by Robert B. Textor, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

376 pages, 20 photos

ISBN  978-1-57181-817-1 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (July 2005)

ISBN  978-1-57181-818-8 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (July 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78920-600-5 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“…a gem of a book… [that] should prove to be an instant classic… This is a captivating and provocative collection and now my favorite futures book of the new century. It is a fun volume that looks at the past, present, and future, all at once… This book is highly recommended to both students and professionals in foresight work and futures studies, and for general audiences.” • Christopher B. Jones in Futures

“Occasionally, a book comes along that towers above others. The World Ahead is such a book… Textor shows how Mead was a generation ahead of almost all her contemporaries in understanding the importance of studying the sociocultural future of learning what is possible, probable, and preferable in order to know how life could and should be made better…” • Wendell Bell, Yale University

“As protégé and friend of Margaret Mead for the last thirty years of her illustrious life, I welcome Textor's showcase of her various views of the future. Mead was at her best in planning for future generations.” • Wilton S. Dillon, Senior Scholar Emeritus, Smithsonian Institute

“[Mead] sought to clarify images of the future as they were current and to articulate images that would be preferable… Textor's commentaries connect these papers and articles in a way that establishes 'the future' as a proper central focus in anthropology…” • Reed D. Riner, Northern Arizona University

“A valuable contribution that shows Mead's broad range of future-oriented interests.” • Future Survey


Born in the first year of the 20th century, it is fitting that Margaret Mead should have been one of the first anthropologists to use anthropological analysis to study the future course of human civilization. This volume collects, for the first time, her writings on the future of humanity and how humans can shape that future through purposeful action. For Mead, the study of the future was born out of her lifelong interest in processes of change. Many of these papers were originally published as conference proceedings or in limited-circulation journals, testimony before government bodies and chapters in works edited by others. They show Mead's wisdom, prescience and concern for the future of humanity.

Margaret Mead served as Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1925 to 1969. She began her career with a study of youth and adolescence in Samoan society, published as Coming of Age in Samoa (1928). She published prolifically, becoming a seminal figure in anthropology, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1979.

Subject: Theory and MethodologyCultural Studies (General)


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