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The study of myths is neglected in sociology. The field used to be very active in anthropology although it was predominantly focused on premodern communities. As for contemporary societies, the most active disciplines are literature and semiotics. From the point of view of sociology, there is a void that must be filled. This is the spirit of the present paper. It outlines a theoretical and empirical sociological approach to myths—more specifically social myths—as a major component of collective imaginaries and a universal mechanism. The paper offers a definition of myths that brings out its distinctiveness among other collective representations; it recalls the major functions performed by myths in every society; it introduces new concepts and it sets forth an analytical framework designed to account for the emergence, reproduction, and decline of myths.


  • social myths
  • archemyths
  • collective imaginaries
  • mythical configurations
  • discursive strategies
Gérard Bouchard
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