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Negotiating Rites$
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Ute Husken and Frank Neubert

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812295

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812295.001.0001

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Negotiating the Social in the Ritual Theory of Victor Turner and Roy Rappaport

Negotiating the Social in the Ritual Theory of Victor Turner and Roy Rappaport

Chapter:
(p.277) 14 Negotiating the Social in the Ritual Theory of Victor Turner and Roy Rappaport
Source:
Negotiating Rites
Author(s):

Grant Potts

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812295.003.0014

The modern social scientific understanding of ritual has both contributed to and been formed by two contested ideas of “the social”: the social as constituted through a structured determinate whole and the social as constituted through an experience of ecstatic union. This chapter investigates the negotiation between these two understandings of the social in the theories of Victor Turner and Roy Rappaport, thereby throwing light on different notions of ritual. The chapter begins by examining these two notions of the social in the precursors to anthropological ritual theory, primarily in the work of William Robertson Smith and Emile Durkheim. The second section then turns to Victor Turner, arguing that this negotiation continues in his understandings of social structure and process and their relation to his concept of communitas. A third section follows that argues Roy Rappaport also manifests this negotiation, occurring between his understandings of a ritual as creating a matrix of ultimate sacred postulates and of trust as the vital force necessary to constitute a social whole. A concluding section addresses the significance of this negotiation for contemporary ritual theory.

Keywords:   the social, contemporary ritual theory, communitas, ultimate sacred postulates

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