Margaret Mead and mental retardation: Words of understanding, concepts of inclusiveness

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
J. David Smith, Professor, Department Chair (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: The writers reflect on the work of Margaret Mead, who is recognized as one of the founders of American anthropology, to highlight some of her insights on mental retardation. Mead's study of the island society of Samoa revealed a society where everyone participated in all aspects of the culture and where there was more charity toward weakness than toward misdirected strength. Many years after the study, Mead told participants at a conference sponsored by the American Association on Mental Deficiency that genuine opportunities are required for a culture in which most individuals can fully participate.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1997
developmental disabilities, Samoan islands, Margaret Mead, anthropology

Email this document to