(noun) A kinship system based on people sharing a common totem which is a real or mythical ancestor, creature, or object that serves as a symbol for a group.
Audio Pronunciation: (to·te·mism)
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- Totem is derived from the Ojibwe word odoodem “his kinship group” and the tribe builds totem poles which are representative sculptures made from trees.
- A totem is both sacred and taboo.
- Totemism is often compared with animism, the belief that all things animate and inanimate have a soul or are inhabited by a spirit.
- Totemism is oft discussed in sociology and anthropology and is still lively debated. Notable social scientists such as Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), Edward Evans “E. E.” Evan-Prichard (1902–1973), James Frazer (1854–1941), Claude Levi-Strauss (1908–2009), and Bronislaw Malinowski (1884–1942) have engaged and debated totemism.
- Also called totemic religion.
- Religion Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. 1952. Structure and Function in Primitive Society, Essays and Addresses. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.
- personified supernatural force
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How to Cite the Definition of Totemism
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “totemism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved March 26, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/totemism/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
totemism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/totemism/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “totemism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed March 26, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/totemism/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“totemism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/totemism/>.