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Aldo Natale Terrin

Subject Religion
Sociology » Sociology of Religion

Key-Topics ritual

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The field of ritual studies has expanded dramatically over the past 20 years. Rituals are analyzed in anthropology, sociology of religion, religious studies, and theology, and also in the study of literature, philosophy, theater, political science, and education, especially from the perspective of performance theory ( Schechner 1977 ). Many disciplines have taken different theoretical approaches to this broad and complex topic, and thus a great variety of definitions have been proposed, no single one of which is adequate. For present purposes ritual will be defined as a formal and symbolic behavior that leads to the creation or recreation of an emotion in order to obtain or maintain a correct balance between persons and the world. “Formal and symbolic behavior” speaks of the particular behavior included in ritual. Certain acts, gestures, utterances, and so on seem to be of a particular kind that sets them off from acts performed in other contexts and situations. This intuitive demarcation from other behaviors is the first step in any consideration of ritual. Analyses of ritual should begin by describing what is distinctive about it, rather than what makes it similar to other forms of social interaction. Symbolic behavior is generated from the word “ritual” itself, which derives from the Indo-European root ri – like “rhyme,” “rhythm,” and “river” – and signifies something like ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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