- Professor Mary Douglas
Cultural Theory, or CT as it has come to be known, is very much the joint creation of Michael Thompson and Aaron Wildavsky, one of those unexpected and highly productive collaborations in the history of the Social Sciences. The American Policy Analyst, Wildavsky, was renowned for his work on Government Budgeting, the Anthropologist, Thompson, was renowned as author of Rubbish Theory. I introduced them, I had the original idea, you can say that I started it, but it would have got nowhere but for their creative action. CT has gone a long way, as attested by the large band of practitioners and the recent count of more than 700 published titles on the subject. And it is not merely of academic concern. Recently a friend who became a consultant in a big multinational company had the new internal organisation explained to him. At the end of the exposition he remarked, ‘That sounds curiously like Grid and Group’, to which the answer was, ‘Yes, not surprisingly, the new system is based on Cultural Theory’. We are proud to see that the idea has gone beyond the limits of academia to become a practical guide for people working together.