How Myth and Rituals Shape Social Identities 2

How Myth and Rituals Shape Social Identities 2 - How Myth...

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How Myth and Rituals Shape Social Identities and Relationships
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Sreedharan 2 Rohit Sreedharan Anthro 101: Intro to Anthropology Thursday, December 13, 2007 Myth and ritual have been incorporated into the daily lives of every human being on this planet. A lot of people think that rituals mean dancing around in tribal outfits circling a fire and praying for rain, when in reality one can say that brushing your teeth is a ritual. People think of that as an everyday activity though, but that is what makes it a ritual. In non-literate preindustrial human societies, rituals and myths shape their way of life. Because they don’t really have any economical responsibilities on the level that we do, all they have to worry about is how the other members of the tribe look upon them. That is where the rituals come into play. They tell the society where you stand; for example coming-of-age rites will make a boy or a girl
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Sreedharan 3 into an adult. The society can no longer look at them as children, and they are forced to respect them as the adults that they have become. On the other hand, myths shape how the society understands these rituals. Without the myths, there wouldn’t be any reason to do a coming-of-age rite of passage or a certain ritual that will bring two people together in marriage. Myths describe to people how the world works, and without them the non-literate people would be lost and confused. Both of these factors play a part in bringing together people within families and without them. Families can come together to share myths with each other, or they can be joined through a marriage ritual. The fact is that myth and rituals form people’s ideas and opinions about other people, as well as their interrelations. Anthropologists define myth as “stories whose truth seems self-evident because they do such a good job of integrating personal experiences with a wider set of assumptions about the way society, or the world in general, must operate” (Lavenda and Schultz). There are different types of myths, but they all follow the same basic definition that was presented previously. One type of myth is the origin myth. From the name, one can tell that this type has something to do with how we came onto this earth or how the Earth itself was created. Different cultures have different stories to tell how we first came along. A lot of the time, myths are based upon a certain religion, which ties in with the culture of the area. Other types can include stories about heroes defeating evil creatures to save the beautiful damsel in distress, apocalypse stories, and stories that have a moral to teach you. Anthropologists are so interested in myths because they are how people learn their moral and cultural obligations.
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Sreedharan 4 Along with myths, rituals help people realize these cultural obligations. Ritual is defined as “a sequence of symbolic activities, set off from the social routines of everyday life, recognizable by members of the society as a ritual and closely connected to a specific set of ideas
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This essay was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course ANTH 101 taught by Professor Stutz during the Fall '08 term at Emory.

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How Myth and Rituals Shape Social Identities 2 - How Myth...

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