One of the pioneers of modern American anthropology, Mead was known as a tireless field investigator and a skillful writer with a popular appeal. Conducting most of her ethnographic work in Samoa and other islands of Oceania, she emphasized the determining influences of culture on the individual personality, and she focused on cultural differences in child rearing, gender roles, sexual rules, and sexual practices. In addition to descriptions of life in “primitive” societies, Mead’s writings included strong criticisms of gender roles and conventional sexual morality in the United States.
The most controversial of her twenty-three books included Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), Sex and Temperament in...
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