The Anthropological Clue to Understanding of Society: as Emmanuel Todd Sees It

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-8-111-120
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 09.08.2021. Revised 28.04.2022. Accepted 30.05.2022.

Abstract. Essay aims at a critical appraisal of the prominent contemporary French social thinker Emmanuel Todd’s writings that explore constituent features of different family types and their psychological “worlds”. By delineating economic, educational and family relations as belonging respectively to conscious, subconscious and nonconscious spheres he asserts that different family types produce distinctive sets of values that account for person’s nonconscious preference for liberty versus authority, inequality versus equality etc. According to Todd to each type of family corresponds a particular ideology, political regime, religion etc. Thereby French sociologist provides original and rather unexpected insights into many social phenomena namely predisposition to liberalism, social democracy, communism, racism, xenophobia etc. Of a particular value is his elucidation of the anthropological roots of individualistic (American-type or absolute nuclear family) and coordinated (German and Japanese or stem family) capitalisms that sheds a new light on supposedly rather well documented story of the varieties of capitalism. However, in economic matters Todd is not always at his best. By describing homo economicus as a conscious but always acting in a framework of particular nonconscious family values, he somewhat blurs distinction between of conscious and nonconscious. In fact, he seems to have never been precise as to which – individual (personal) or collective (societal) – nonconscious family values modify person’s economic performance. As he sharply criticizes Germany for imposing a stem family (austerity) type economic policy on EC, one may deduce that they interact at least at a national level. French thinker’s theory critically depends on the thesis of an exceptional longevity of nonconscious family values, seemingly a rather questionable idea however supported by evidence. Even accelerating atomization of societies making family values’ influence more subtle does not undermine the validity of this his central thesis. Todd’ works are not without flaws but they are highly provocative, original and pathbreaking.

Keywords: anthropology, family type, beliefs, culture, liberalism, authoritarianism, equality, ideology, religion, varieties of capitalism, homo economicus


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For citation:
Studentsov V. The Anthropological Clue to Understanding of Society: as Emmanuel Todd Sees It. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 8, pp. 111-120.

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