In this volume, Bell re-examines the issues, methods, and ramifications of our interest in ritual by concentrating on anthropology, sociology, and the history of religions. This homology is achieved by a hidden appeal to a type of common denominator, the opposition of thought and action. “The deployment of ritualization, consciously or unconsciously, is the deployment of a particular construction of power relationships, a particular relationship of domination, consent, and resistance. “By building on specific aspects of practice theory, however, I will lay out an approach to ritual activities that stresses the primacy of the social act itself, how its strategies are lodged in the very doing of the act, and how ‘. It is a strategy intimately connected with legitimation, discourse, and fairly high degrees of social complicity and maneuverability” (192-3). That is, the problems we face in analyzing ritual, as well as the impetus for engaging these particular problems, have less to do with interpreting the raw data and more to do with the manner in which we theoretically constitute ritual as the object of a cultural method of interpretation” (16-17). As such, ritualization is a matter of various culturally specific strategies for setting some activities off from others, for creating and privileging a qualitative distinction between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane,’ and for ascribing such distinctions to realities thought to transcend the powers of human actors” (74). That is, people DO ritual, and THINK something else. The opposition of the theorist and the ritual object becomes homologized with two other oppositions, namely, the opposition that differentiates ritual (beliefs versus activities) and the opposition of two fundamental sociocultural forces that is resolved by ritual (conceptual versus dispositional forces). The dynamic interaction of texts and rites, reading and chanting, the word fixed and the word preached are practices, not social developments of a fixed nature and significance. After a series of examples, Bell discusses a debate in anthropology over whether there’s been a move away from grand social theory about culture and society to a discipline that is more narrowly focused on specific contexts and experiences in the field. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. “The evocation of ritualizing strategies by activities that do not wish to be considered religious ritual is a very common feature particularly in the secularism of American society” (205). Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. To view 1 Full Study Guide and 1 Book Review for this book, visit our Ritual Theory Ritual Practice - Summary and Analysis page. Ritual activity can then become meaningful. The starting point of the study is consideration of what causes certain acts to be called ritual, how the category affects knowledge about other cultures, and what the assumptions are that limit how we think of ritual (4). She also points to research that notes that systematic formulations of beliefs suggest no cohesion but stratification. The basic assumption is the differentiation of thought and action, and layers of homologous pairs are built on that. many centuries. Ritual theory, ritual practice. Ritualizing schemes invoke a series of privileged oppositions that, when acted in space and time through a series of movements, gestures, and sounds, effectively structure and nuance an environment. As such, of course, the redemptive hegemony of practice does not reflect reality more or less effectively; it creates it more or less effectively. While this theory does recognize that there are not such clear cut differences between primitive and modern societies, she emphasizes that context is essential, and not all groups’ rituals can be described by the same theories, which the theory does not deal with adequately. As such, of course, the redemptive hegemony of practice does not reflect reality more or less effectively; it creates it more or less effectively. She's right, by the way. Hence, through an orchestration in time of loosely and effectively homologized oppositions in which some gradually come to dominate others, the social body reproduces itself in the image of the symbolically schematized environment that has been simultaneously established” (109-110). It is a strategic and practical orientation for acting, a framework possible only insofar as it is embedded in the act itself. 2008: 17–42 and 179–182. The example is given of those analyzing Durkheim and Durkheim himself, there is a tendency to see two sociocultural processes and then try to find a theory that reintegrates them (25). Whether ritual empowers or disempowers one in some practical sense, it always suggests the ultimate coherence of a cosmos in which one takes a particular place. Although awkward, the term ‘redemptive hegemony’ denotes the way in which reality is experienced as a natural weave of constraint and possibility, the fabric of day-to-day dispositions and decisions experienced as a field for strategic action. Download. Both generate meaning—the first for the ritual actor and the second for the theorist” (28). The construction of this environment and the activities within it simultaneously work to impress these schemes upon the bodies of participants. Yet the more subtle and far-reaching distortion is not the obvious bifurcation of a single, complex reality into dichotomous aspects that can exist in theory only. These arguments lead to circularity, too, because the conclusions seem to result from what the theorist has imposed on the system: “As with Geertz’s approach, these theories see ritual as designed to address fundamental conflicts and contradictions in the society, and there is similarly little evidence that the conflicts so addressed are not simply imposed through the categories of the observer” (35-6). This essay looks at recent theory of ritual. “These examples suggest that textualization is not an inevitable linear process of social evolution, as Weber’s model of rationalization may seem to imply. This sense of ritual exists as an implicit variety of schemes whose deployment works to produce sociocultural situations that the ritualized body can dominate in some way. Retrouvez Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice et des millions de livres en stock sur Amazon.fr. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. of ritual studies, indigenous ritualizes have also developed (emic) theories about rituals over . To do so, need to consider historical development of issues, engagement with our cultural categories, extend this to real examples (5). In this volume, Bell re-examines the issues, methods, and ramifications of our interest in ritual by concentrating on anthropology, sociology, and the history of religions. In the end, a model of ritual that integrates opposing sociocultural forces becomes homologized to a mode of theoretical discourse that reintegrates the dichotomy underlying the identification of a thinking theorist and an acting object. As Quentin Skinner points out, against such arguments, those who wish to move away from object and discourse construction are actually generated “architechtonic theoretical frameworks” (52) that only. The book also seeks to understand how theoretical knowledge is formed and “theoretical activity is differentiated from other forms of social activity” (5). ‘It is in the dialectical relationship between the body and a space structured according to mythico-ritual oppositions,’ writes Bourdieu, ‘that one finds the form par excellence of the structural apprenticeship which leads to the em-bodying of the structures of the world, that is, the appropriating by the world of a body thus enabled to appropriate the world.’ Hence, through a series of physical movements ritual practices spatially and temporally construct an environment organized according to schemes of privileged oppositions. The theoretical construction of ritual becomes a reflection of the theorist’s method and the motor of a discourse in which the concerns of theorists take center stage” (54). She also discusses power relations and how they act in the social body for Foucault. “In sum, it is a major reversal of traditional theory to hypothesize that ritual activity is not the ‘instrument’ of more basic purposes, such as power, politics, or social control, which are usually seen as existing before or outside the activities of the rite. He brings in the relationship between observer and participant of ritual: for Geertz, “ritual offers a special vantage point for the theorist to observe these processes” (27). Find it Stacks. Search for more papers by this author. Summary of the problem: “With these objections [described in the summary above] an impasse appears to loom. 37 Full PDFs related to this paper. There are four theses: “the social solidarity thesis, the channeling of conflict thesis, the repression thesis, and definition of reality thesis” (171). That is, the object and the method are actually intrinsic to each other, one demonstrating the naturalness and validity of the other. Geertz, who is focused on meaning, polarizes ethos and worldview, which is parallel to the analogous to the split between action and belief, respectively. Now with a … The ritualized environment can translate social problems into the terms of the ritual, not resolving them but diffusing them in this network. Bell appreciates the “more subtle understanding of social control” (176) but critiques that it treats “rite as a nearly magical mechanism of social alchemy by which the irksomeness of human experience is transformed into the desirable, the unmentionable, or the really real” (176). The last example is of “Performance” theory and other related analogical theories like text: Bell claims that performance theory is guilty of presenting activity as dramatizing prior conceptual entities in order to affirm them. Bell closes the chapter by outlining the relationship between ritualized activities and modes of social organization. Example from Mauss of the method/subject reliance in work on gifts (49-50), Geertz on culture and meaning (50), and Ricoeur on text and social action (50-51). Bell shows that these two patterns are evident in several theories of ritual, including Durkheim’s. Academia.edu uses cookies to personalize content, tailor ads and improve the user experience. Yet the domination of the theoretical subject is neither abrogated nor transcended. It argues that an overemphasis on texts in the study of religion has led to a misleading analysis of ritual as a symbolic site of meaning. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. The book analyzes the work that has been done with ritual as a category to get to where the scholarship is and suggests other places to take the category of ritual (4). It does not see what it does in the process of realizing this end, its transformation of the problematic itself. Ritual Theory. She is particularly focused on Douglas’ theory, which emphasizes that ritual works for social control effectively in some but not all societies (those that are closed groups, have restricted communication codes, emphasis on hierarchical social position, and a system based on social consensus). Summary: The body is the focus of this chapter. She suggests that the subordination of actors to thinkers is more damaging than the bifurcation itself. “Skinner finds that despite themselves the major ‘anti-theorists’ of the last few decades have generated comprehensive and architectonic theoretical frameworks. This is the “internal strategy” of ritualization. The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University (USA), USA. The two are co-constructed, each implying the naturalness of the other. 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