Basically classicist and armchair anthropologist i .e. belonging to the Evolutionary School, his interest in anthropology was stimulated by the Primitive Culture of E.B Tylor.His major work The Golden Bough was a reconstruction of the gradual evolution of human thought and custom through the successive stages of magic, science and religion.
Magic which was the earliest phase of evolution was to be replaced by science. Science he viewed as a return to the age of magic. But unlike the early men who possessed a completely wrong idea of natural causes in the age of science, correct techniques and premises are used to manipulate nature. Religion he understood as a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and human life. The law of similarity and the law of contact are the two principles on which magic is based so primitive man wrongly believed. The magic based on the first principle is called imitative or homeopathic. And that based on the second is termed contagious.