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In this influential work, first published in English in 1963, Durkheim and Mauss claim that the individual mind is capable of classification and they seek the origin of the 'classificatory function' in society. On the basis of an intensive examination of forms and principles of symbolic classification reported from the Australian aborigines, the Zuni and traditional China, they try to establish a formal correspondence between social and symbolic classification. From this they argue that the mode of classification is determined by the form of society and that the notions of space, time, hierarchy, number, class and other such cognitive categories are products of society. Dr Needham's introduction assesses the validity of Durkhiem and Mauss's argument, traces its continued influence in various disciplines, and indicates its analytical value for future researches in social anthropology.