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. promote belief or conviction. “In this very abbreviated summary, Ricoeur can be seen to lay out the steps for creating an object amenable to a certain type of scrutiny; insofar as the object so constructed and scrutinized is een to yield a higher, fuller, truer meaning (indeed, its. Bell critiques Turner’s late work for remaining dialectical and Stanley Tambiah’s theory of ritual as communication for falling into the dialectic pattern, too (41-42). READ PAPER. As we have seen with ritual, particularly in the extended example drawn from Geertz, the structure of the constituted object is a veritable model of the method of analysis and vice versa” (49). Summary of the problem: “With these objections [described in the summary above] an impasse appears to loom. Instead, I have proposed a new framework within which to reconsider traditional questions about ritual. Yet ritualization. “Ritual does what it does through the privileged differentiations and deferred resolutions by which the ritualized body structures an environment, an environment that in turn impresses its highly nuanced structure on the bodies of those involved in the rite. While taxonomy of ritual has been important for organizing the study of ritual, it has led to several problems: a “dizzying” number of types arise that leads theorist to talk in circles, categories undermine indigenous distinctions and blurs the particulars into unnuanced generals. Ritualization endows these agents with some degree of ritual mastery. Strategies, signification, and the experience of meaningfulness are found in the endless circularity of the references mobilized, during the course of which some differentiations come to dominate others. Chel Mau. 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. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. With this approach in mind, I will use the term ‘ritualization’ to draw attention to the way in which certain social actions strategically distinguish themselves in relation to other actions. This is the “internal strategy” of ritualization. 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). Some of the problems with text as a metaphor for ritual: assumption that text is “autonomous and unified” and that, Summary: After a thorough summary of what she has covered so far—the homologized oppositions between thought and action, the thinking subject and non-thinking subject, theorist and actor, as well as the way that ritual serves a function of reintegrating these oppositions—Bell emphasizes how the discourse of ritual has been overdetermined by the initial dichotomy and rejects the thought-action dichotomy as a basis for understanding ritual. “The implicit dynamic and ‘end’ of ritualization—that which it does not see itself doing—can be said to be the production of a ‘ritualized body.’ A ritualized body is a body invested with a ‘sense’ of ritual. Bell traces discussions of power from Hobbes to Lukes (who writes of three dimensions of power); another lineage of discussions of power runs from Machiavelli to Foucault, the latter being the dominant voice Bell discusses in the chapter. This is a circular process that tends to be misrecognized, if it is perceived at all, as values and experiences impressed upon the person and community from sources of power and order beyond it. “I will show theoretical discourse on ritual to be highly structured by the differentiation and subsequent reintegration of two particular categories of human experience: thought and action. 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. “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. “Part I addressed the basic question, What is ritual? On the other hand many problems attend the attempt to see ritual as a dimension of all or many forms of social behavior” (74). She concludes, “These studies give evidence for the ambiguity and instability of beliefs and symbols as well as the inability of ritual to control by virtue of any consensus based on shared beliefs. Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. In ritualization, power is not external to its workings; it exists only insofar as it is constituted with and through the lived body, which is both the body of society and the social body. There are four theses: “the social solidarity thesis, the channeling of conflict thesis, the repression thesis, and definition of reality thesis” (171). Stephen Lukes critiques this position for not adequately dealing with political rituals. This mastery is an internalization of schemes with which they are capable of reinterpreting reality in such a way as to afford perceptions and experiences of a redemptive hegemonic order. A third pattern, too, emerges in Geertz, in addition to the dichotomy and synthesis pattern. Sorry, preview is currently unavailable. Summary: This chapter outlines the theories of ritual and social control coming out of Durkheim. When these schemes are embodied in a cultural sense of reality and possibility, the agent is capable of interpreting and manipulating simply by reclassifying the very relationships understood as constitutive of reality. Bell also clarifies Foucault’s use of the term ritual with respect to power. Summary: Bell first sets up the problem with ritual theories that have been created thus far. Her argument relies on analysis of how language is used (8). that defines a culture’s sense of reality. 2008: 17–42 and 179–182. This type of expedient logic carries another inevitable corollary, however. Naturally, as many others have argued before, the differentiation tends to distort not only the nature of so-called physical activities, but the nature of mental ones as well. Bell then discusses what symbols do: many analyses suggest that symbols serve a purpose of creating solidarity and community integration. On the one hand there is evidence that ritual acts are not a clear and closed category of social behavior. To learn more, view our, Special Issue: RITUAL CREATIVITY, EMOTIONS AND THE BODY, Introduction, "Ritual Creativity, Emotions, and the Body". Constructed tradition is key to community identity formation; such construction from ritual is a powerful strategy based on authoritative precedents and perceptions of consensus on historically rooted values. Academia.edu uses cookies to personalize content, tailor ads and improve the user experience. Rather than an embracing ideological vision of the whole, it conveys a biased, nuanced rendering of the ordering of power so as to facilitate the envisioning of personal empowerment through activity in the perceived system” (84). Ritual is not just blind reenactment of ritual precedent but is subject to constant reinterpretation and renegotiation. This question and its answer should be understood as an alternative to the view that ritual is a functional mechanism or expressive medium in the service of social solidarity and control. Incidentally, the reader will find illustrated a type of behavior common in disputes in the world of science. Sacred and profane: “Whereas Durkheim defined religion and ritual as that which is addressed to the sacred, the approach presented here is an inverse of his, showing how a particular way of acting draws the types of flexible distinctions that yield notions and categories like ‘ritual’ or ‘religion.’ The relative clarity and flexibility of the boundaries, of course, are also a highly strategic matter in a particular cultural community and are best understood in terms of the concrete situation” (91). This page has been accessed 170 times. She goes on to show how this definition can serve to illuminate such classic issues in traditional ritual studies as belief, ideology, legitimation, and power. “In brief, it is my general thesis here that ritualization, as a strategic mode of action effective within certain social orders, does not, in any useful understanding of the words, ‘control’ individuals or society. The framework of ritualization casts a new light on the purpose of ritual activity, its social efficacy, and its embodiment in complex traditions and systems” (67). The other group, the one that sees “ritual as an aspect of all activity” is a newer set of theories. Inscribed within the social body, these principles enable the ritualized person to generate in turn strategic schemes that can appropriate or dominate other sociocultural situations” (98-99). The distinction between symbolic and instrumental has a tendency to collapse into emotional versus logical, which itself often leads to ritual described as cathartic and dealing with anxiety. This makes including ritual as objective data instead of analytic tool problematic, and it is hard to prevent a slippage from the latter to the former (13); after Kuhn and Foucault it is problematic to simply suggest ritual is a neutral category by recourse to claims that ritual is merely an analytic tool (14). 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). The solidarity thesis, characteristic of the work of Robertson Smith, Evans-Pritchard, Fortes, and Munn, “suggests that ritual exercises control through its promotion of consensus and the psychological and cognitive ramifications of such consensus” (171). The temporary resolution of a dichotomy is cast as the central dynamic of cultural life” (27). In other words, ideologies exist only in concrete historical forms in specific relations to other ideologies” (191). that defines a culture’s sense of reality. Using the term "ritualization" to describe ritual thus contextualized, she defines it as a culturally strategic way of acting. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. The example of this is Saussure’s repeated pattern replication of the distinction between synchrony and diachrony that infuses levels of analysis with this artificial distinction (21-22). Ritualization is probably an effective way of acting only under certain cultural circumstances” (140-141). Annual Reviews of Anthropology 44:329-45. “In sum, a redemptive hegemony is not an explicit ideology or a single and bounded. Hence, the relationship of ritualization and social control may be better approached in terms of how ritual activities constitute a specific embodiment and exercise of power” (170). As practices, they invite and expect the strategic counterplay” (140). “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. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. To analyze the relationship of ritualization to belief, therefore, I will focus on the tension and struggle involved in this, “Complicity, struggle, negotiation—these terms all aim to rethink ideology as a lived and practical consciousness, as a partial and oppositional process actively constructed by all involved and taking place in the very organization of everyday life. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice<$>, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. Even more circularity, it can be described as the strategic production of expedient schemes that structure an environment in such a way that the environment appears to be the source of the schemes and their values. 2 Sahlins 1996, Asad 1993. very much concerned with power. Summary: Bell’s major argument for this chapter is that a pattern emerges in ritual theory whereby thought and action are dichotomized and then subsequently reintegrated. 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). Search for more papers by this author. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link. Namely, she questions the universality (7). Using examples of Geertz, Marxian/Hegelian concept of contradiction, Turner and Gluckman, and performance and other analogy-based theories like ritual as text, Bell suggests that what is presumed at the beginning (the discontinuity or the analogy to performance, for example) comes to dictate the conclusion about ritual that the theorist comes to at the end. This happens for a number of homologous pairs besides thought and action, like synchrony and diachrony, communitas and formalized social order (Turner), or ritual observer and actor (Geertz). The theory of ritual that results is built on these introduced assumptions. Just as one may see indigenous (emic) debates and discussions about ritual(s) as a form . Download Full PDF Package. 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. People in the Turner-Gluckman have also added a psychological focus. 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. 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