Chapter

3. Ritual and society

Barry Stephenson

in Ritual

Published in print January 2015 | ISBN: 9780199943524
Published online February 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199394432 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780199943524.003.0004

Series: Very Short Introductions

3. Ritual and society

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  • Sociology and Anthropology of Religion
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What does ritual do? Sociological and anthropological theory of the first half of the twentieth century proposes that ritual—secular or sacred—binds groups together, ensuring their harmonious functioning by generating and maintaining orders of meaning, purpose, and value. ‘Ritual and society’ discusses the theories of Emile Durkheim, Roy Rappaport, and Clifford Geetz and their ideas on ritual producing solidarity and effervescence and ritual's role in politics, power, and negotiation. In the 1970s, a sea change in ritual studies followed the work of Victor Turner and others who highlighted ritual's critical and creative potential. Public ritual is complex: rites can conserve, transmit, and protect tradition, but others are creatively, critically, strategically employed to enact change.

Keywords: action; liminality; religion; ritual; ritualization; tradition

Chapter.  4468 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology and Anthropology of Religion ; Customs and Traditions ; Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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