Review of Sex and Society by W. I. Thomas

W. H. R. Rivers

 Sex and Society : Studies in the Social Psychology of Sex. Ву William I. 69 Thomas, Associate Professor of Sociology in the University of Chicago. London : T. Fisher Unwin, 1907. Pp. v + 325. 20 x 14 cm. Price 6s. 6d. ne

This book consists of republished essays and its reissue in book form is fully justified by the thread of connection which runs through the whole in the idea that many features of human society are to be explained by a fundamental difference in the constitution of men and women, a difference of which the most summary expression is that man is more motor and woman more stationary. The most important parts of the book are those dealing with the influence of this difference on forms of social organisation, and the author refers the origin of exogamy and the wide prevalence of matrilineal descent to the greater restlessness of man and the more stationary habits of woman.

The author's treatment raises many interesting questions as to the part which psychological explanations are to play in primitive sociology, and the factors discussed by him must be taken into account by sociologists, though it is very doubtful whether they alone can have brought into existence the institutions of exogamy and mother-right.

It must be mentioned that Professor Thomas is not quite up-to-date in his knowledge of the work of English anthropologists, and he quotes from the older work of Crawley, Haddon, and Howitt instead of from their most recent works, sometimes with unsatisfactory results. Thus he ascribes the practice of elopement among the Kurnai to the appropriation of the women by the older men, while Howitt in his latest work refers the custom to the extensive restrictions on marriage dependent on kinship, &c. Again, in discussing the evidence for the prevalence of wife-capture, the author refers the supposed survivals to the natural coyness of the female and does not mention the important views developed by Mr. Crawley in The Mystic Rose.

W. H. R. RIVERS.

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