Future Predictions of Famous Anthropologist Margaret Mead

About anthropologist Margaret Mead and her prediction for the future as regards the world and culture.


A highly respected anthropologist, Margaret Mead has often spoken up on aspects of popular culture. She is curator emeritus of ethnology at The American Museum of Natural History, and past president of both the American Anthropological Association and the World Federation for Mental Health. At 23, she spent 9 months on a field trip to Samoa, and after that returned repeatedly to the Pacific to study island cultures. Dr. Mead is the author of several classics in anthropology--Coming of Age in Samoa, New Lives for Old, Male and Female. In her column for Redbook magazine, she has commented on the world scene.

Past Predictions: No record.

Future Predictions: To 1998

--If man has not found ways to deal with environmental problems such as water and air pollution by 1998, it will be too late. "The future is not determined and it lies in our own hands."

No Dates Given-In recent years, we have gone from a postfigurative culture, in which the young learn from the old, to a cofigurative culture, in which children and adults learn from their peers. The culture in which the young live is so different that the old can give them little guidance in how to deal with it. The young take for granted satellites, war, computers, pollution, the idea of population control. No longer bound by the linear sequences of the printed media, they learn from television where they see killing and other events as they happen in 3-dimensional "reality." They make few distinctions between friend and foe, peacetime and wartime, "my" group and "their" group, according to Dr. Mead. The older generation is similarly isolated and knows more about change than any other generation. In the future, we will probably live in a prefigurative culture in which the old learn from the young. We must, Dr. Mead says, discover prefigurative ways of teaching and learning that will keep the future open, so that children will learn how to learn and discover the value of commitment, rather than be told what to learn or be committed to. In addition, elders will need the experiential knowledge of the young as a basis on which to make plans. The young must be allowed to participate directly and ask the questions; however, there must exist enough trust between generations so that the old will be allowed to work on the answers.

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