Mary Douglas:
NATURAL SYMBOLS (Random House, 1970)

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The British anthropologist Mary Douglas speculates that the physical body is a microcosm of the social body. Symbols grounded in the human body are used to express social experience, and viceversa, the human body is "taught" to individuals by society. By understanding how the body works, we understand how society works.
The "natural symbols" are the ones derived from the phenomenology of the human body, for example blood, breath, excrement. These symbols are progressively applied to ideas, practices, rituals, institutions and societies. They acquire a social meaning.
Douglas examines a number of ritualistic expressions of this bodily/social relationship and their impact on religion and politics. Douglas explains the humans' obsession for their bodies' orifices as the need to maintain their body's boundaries, a need which in turn reflects the need to maintain the unity of the tribe.

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