Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 539–556 | Cite as

Culture, Biology, and Evolution: The Mead–Freeman Controversy Revisited

  • Paul Shankman


Derek Freeman argues that the central issue in the Mead–Freeman controversy is evolution. He views Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa as not only misleading about Samoa but as a “sacred text” that promoted an antievolutionary paradigm among American cultural anthropologists. A review of Mead's writing on culture, biology, and evolution demonstrates that contrary to Freeman's claim, Mead favored an evolutionary approach throughout her career. Moreover, while Mead's book was a popular text and a bestseller, it was not a “sacred text” among anthropologists. Freeman's misrepresentation of the historical record concerning Mead's views and the place of Coming of Age in anthropology raises major questions about his scholarship.


Historical Record Evolutionary Approach Central Issue Major Question Cultural Anthropologist 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Shankman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology CB 233University of Colorado at Boulder

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