Socio-cultural definition of intercultural dialogue in the concept of Mary Douglas

Keywords: open societies, closed societies, hierarchical societies, “dirt”, marginals, schismatic enclave, individualized societies, fatalistic societies, ritual


The research is aimed at uncovering the distinctiveness of the culture types (or communities) identified by Mary Douglas, and at determining the extent of inner willingness for intercultural communication of the representatives of those culture types. The authors are motivated by the inadequacy of the prevailing in modern intellectual discourse division of societies into "open" and “closed" ones. In particular, they emphasize that the global tendency of societies towards openness should have led to an emergence of Kant's citizen of the world, but instead it led to an increase of cultural intolerance and an exacerbation of intercultural conflicts. In view of this, the typology of societies conceptualized in Karl Popper's works needs significant reexamination, expansion, and clarification; the intellectual work of Mary Douglas accomplishes this goal in its own way. Mary Douglas's scientific work, in particular her concept of “grid/group" can become a theoretical foundation for the study of problems and contradictions of intercultural communication. The "cultural map”, proposed by the researcher, makes it possible to determine the level of openness of the representatives of a certain cultural environment to intercultural communication, and to predict its effectiveness and its consequences. In addition, the concept of “grid/group”, developed by the researcher, can become a useful theoretical basis for the study of "cultural intelligence”. Evaluation of social structuring and categorization from the standpoint of Durkheim's approach enabled Mary Douglas to demonstrate the particulars of formation and maintenance of cultural boundaries by means of ritual and to form an original "cultural map", identifying four extreme types of social communities with a clear internal structure. The latter organizes the social and cultural experience of each member of the community, determining the characteristics of his or her behavior, including the willingness for intercultural interaction. In the works of Mary Douglas, it manifests itself not only and not so much as an individual’s personal mood, but as a specific and predetermined social program of interaction with representatives of other cultural environments, that is, a kind of mental directive. It determines the characteristics of individual behavior of each person; meaning, it becomes a schematic marker of a person's cultural affiliation, thus facilitating the understanding of cultural differences and motivation of a person in a group.

Author Biographies

Natalia Kryvda, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Doctor of Science in Philosophy, Professor, Professor of the Department of Ukrainian Philosophy and Culture,
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Svetlana Storozhuk, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Doctor of Science in Philosophy, Professor, Professor of the Department of Ukrainian Philosophy and Culture,
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv


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How to Cite
Kryvda, N., & Storozhuk, S. (2022). Socio-cultural definition of intercultural dialogue in the concept of Mary Douglas. IDEAS. PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNAL. SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC ISSUES, (1(19)-2(20), 40-50.