Is „meaning“ a useful analytical category for understanding the symbolism of rituals?


Essay, 2013

5 Pages, Grade: 65%


Abstract or Introduction

According to Turner (1970:19), ritual can be defined as "formal behaviour for occasions not given over to technological routine, having reference to beliefs in mystical beings of powers. The symbol is the smallest unit of ritual". Even if one does not – as Humphrey and Laidlaw (1994) – accept Turner’s definition of ritual focused on a religious context, we might still agree that rituals are build up of symbols. Symbols in this moment are ambiguous, supposedly meaningful ‘metaphors’ that – so the debatable thesis of for instance Geertz (1993, 2004) and Bloch – need to be interpreted. In this essay, I want to follow three strands in the underlying debate. First of all, scholars such as Geertz and Bloch have taken over the notion of meaning as device in order to understand rituals – but added contextual dimensions to its sphere. Others have secondly dismissed the notion of ‘ritual as a text’ in favour of ‘ritual as performance’ (Lewis), whereas a third school of thought warns of the danger of the concept of meaning and symbolism per se (Humphrey and Laidlaw). If we accept the claim that rituals are made up of symbols, an approach that searches for the meaning of those symbols might be helpful – if the meaning is not imposed by the analyst. Rituals that are intended as a performative act, do not ask for a textual analysis, however. They are better understood with categories such as effect and emotion. If we add those dimensions to our repertoire of meaning, many rituals or ritual facettes can be made ‘comprehensible’.

Details

Title
Is „meaning“ a useful analytical category for understanding the symbolism of rituals?
College
University of Cambridge
Grade
65%
Author
Year
2013
Pages
5
Catalog Number
V209432
ISBN (eBook)
9783656377603
File size
440 KB
Language
English
Keywords
Anthropolgy, ritual, meaning, text, performance
Quote paper
Johannes Lenhard (Author), 2013, Is „meaning“ a useful analytical category for understanding the symbolism of rituals?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/209432

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Look inside the ebook
Title: Is „meaning“ a useful analytical category for understanding the symbolism of rituals?



Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free