persuasion - 15 PASSAGE AND PERSUASION So what do we try to...

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15. PASSAGE AND PERSUASION So what do we try to accomplish thru ritual? What does ritual do? One of the most goals of ritual most commonly claimed or assumed is to create order and control. The world has its own inherent order, but also has great deal of mess, flux, chaos. Entropy, things fall apart. We struggle to keep things together This is perhaps what symbolic forms and systems of all sorts do most generally: to assert that things make sense, there is some coherence and regularity. We have certainly seen this with other symbolic forms, esp. symbolic classifications Ritual seems to do this a lot. In effect, it is an esp. consistent and systematic attempt to impose order on universe Whatever else ritual does, it usually imposes some kind of order Simply by repetition and regularity. Here there seems to be a link with private rituals, which are often attempts, driven by psychological compulsion, to impose order. Most clear with obsessive/compulsive. Rituals also wrestle with the irregular and messy and disorderly: death, sickness, loss, destruction But paradoxically, some rituals impose disorder. Turn everything upside down and backwards. Not necessarily contradictory. has been suggested that by giving disorder its due, keeping it within special boundaries, that ultimately imposing order. Creating community The other goal most often mentioned. Building or maintaining or celebrating the unity and coherence of a group Both local community and wider ones. Groups of any size. Q. What examples from your own experience? Often this is a goal or the primary goal even of rituals that ostensibly about other things University graduations as much about the university community as about saying goodbye to graduates. Among Kuna, ritual lasting about an hour for young girl who just had first menstruation: supposedly for her, but she is inside a little tiny teepee, they build an enclosure around her. Each man brings bundle of huge leaves to cover, do all together. As much about the unity of men as about girl. For Durkheim, the solidarity of the social group was the big question After the short essay on classification written with Mauss, D wrote immensely long Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) Found origin of religion in sense of awe and exaltation in social group in collective functions
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Conjures image of horde dancing around, getting worked up, collective sense of group perhaps like rave or Pentacostalist church service Durkheim had mixed message: on one hand, saw solidarity as following from group experience; but also wrote that groups had needs like body or machine; rituals helps maintain group. He was followed by so-called functionalists, sociologists and British anthropologists, who emphasized the functional needs of group, ritual fulfilling function, rather than other way---less complex than D. In some cases ritual may have goal of marking or enforcing the
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course ANTHRO 212 taught by Professor Howe during the Fall '08 term at MIT.

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persuasion - 15 PASSAGE AND PERSUASION So what do we try to...

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