Incest: Origins of the Taboo

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Overview

Throughout history humans have been fascinated with incest. Stories, fables, literature, philosophers, church officials, and scientists have explored this mysterious topic. The taboo is critical to human survival, as incest threatens the species and patterns of human social organization.

Drawing upon the rich legacy of theory, empirical data, and speculation about the origins of the incest taboo, this book develops a new explanation for not only the emergence of the taboo in hominid and human evolutionary history but also for the varying strength of the taboo for the incestuous dyads of the nuclear family, the different rates of incest of these dyads, and the dramatic differences the psychological pathology of incest on its younger victims. Synthesizing findings from biology, sociobiology, neurology, primatology, clinical psychology, anthropology, and sociology, the authors weave together a scenario of how natural selection initially generated mechanisms of sexual avoidance; and then, as the nuclear family emerged in hominid and human evolution, how sociocultural selection led to the development of the incest taboo.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594511172
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Maryanski is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. She is the coauthor of four books outlining her approach to a more biological-based sociology, plus another edited book devoted to evolutionary analysis in the social sciences. She is also the author of many dozens of research articles and chapters using data on primates as a lens for understanding human nature and its affects on behavior, interaction, and social organization.

Jonathan H. Turner is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside, and University Professor for the University of California. He is the author of thirty-eight influential books, which have been published in twelve different languages.

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Table of Contents

1 The golden age of promiscuity 1
2 Avoiding incest : more recent explanations for the origins of the incest taboo 27
3 Forbidden acts : incest and its psychological consequences 53
4 A distant mirror : ape social structure and sexual avoidance among the primates 83
5 The horde : social organization before the nuclear family 123
6 Family and taboo 163
7 Unraveling the mystery of the incest taboo 185
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