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. Closely involved with the objectification and legitimation of an ordering of power as an assumption of the way things really are, ritualization is a strategic arena for the embodiment of power relations. Instead, I have proposed a new framework within which to reconsider traditional questions about ritual. This paper. This group runs the risk of analyzing all parts of human life as ritual. Ritual theories are embedded in larger discourses, and how ritual is conceived reflects and supports the discourse that is its frame. The construction of this environment and the activities within it simultaneously work to impress these schemes upon the bodies of participants. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. Although each pursues independent analyses, Merquior, J.B. Thompson, and Bourdieu similarly conclude that ideology is best understood as a strategy of power, a process whereby certain social practices or institutions are depicted to be ‘natural’ and ‘right.’ While such a strategy implies the existence of a group or groups whose members stand to gain in some way by an acceptance of these practices, it also implies the existence of some form of opposition. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. “To generate theoretical discourse on culture, or almost any theoretical discourse for that matter, it is necessary to do two things: first, to specify a distinct level or mode of analysis, in this case a ‘cultural’ level; and second, to identify an object or phenomenon that exists as a ‘meaningful totality’ only on such a level of analysis. 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. Noté /5. 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). Yet ritualization. . Both generate meaning—the first for the ritual actor and the second for the theorist” (28). Now with a … Any ideology is always in dialogue with, and thus shaped and constrained by, the voices it is suppressing, manipulating, echoing. Download. Ritual Theory Ritual Practice by Catherine Bell available in Trade Paperback on Powells.com, also read synopsis and reviews. anti-theoretical and committed to cultural self-reflection by the West. Ritual activity can then become meaningful. Search for more papers by this author. Meaning for the outside theorist comes differently: insofar as he or she can perceive in ritual the true basis of its meaningfulness for the ritual actors—that is, its fusion of conceptual and dispositional categories—then the theorists can go beyond mere thoughts about activity to grasp the meaningfulness of the ritual. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field.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. Part I: “[T]he chapters in Part I take up the initial task of a critical theory of ritual by addressing the construction of the category itself and the role this construction has played in organizing a broad discourse on religion, society, and culture. He fails to do better than the functionalists he critiques for not being able to explain change (33-34). only to a rather limited extent since the idiom of its differentiation of acting will be, for the most part, culturally specific” (93). One pattern in theory of ritual: Ritual theory generally distinguishes action from conceptual parts of religion like belief, symbol, and myth. 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. The book is organized into three major sections: "The Practice of Ritual Theory" (chapters 1-3), which generally surveys the prior work in the field and situates Bell's book in that context; "The Sense of Ritual" (chapters 4-6), which develops the concept of ritual in terms of bodies and the external systems within which they work; and "Ritual and Power" (chapters 7-9), which frames the discussion of ritual in … The theory of ritual that results is built on these introduced assumptions. It does not see what it does in the process of realizing this end, its transformation of the problematic itself. Summary – Main objectives of the Virtual Exchange. To view 1 Full Study Guide and 1 Book Review for this book, visit our Ritual Theory Ritual Practice - Summary and Analysis page. 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). Summary of the problem: “With these objections [described in the summary above] an impasse appears to loom. This type of expedient logic carries another inevitable corollary, however. This cosmos is experienced as a chain of states or an order of existence that places one securely in a field of action and in alignment with the ultimate goals of all action. “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 ‘. 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. 366 Michael Puett builds upon several aspects of contemporary practice, but it also explicitly opposed other aspects. That is, theories of ritual which attempt to integrate thought and action in any guise simultaneously function to maintain their differentiation” (32). Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. “The argument of this chapter is essentially a simple one: ritualization is first and foremost a strategy for the construction of certain types of power relationships effective within particular social organizations. She also notes that the symbolic vs practical distinction is not a native, but an imposed one. Yet, domination has not disappeared, and is in fact maintained in the thought-action dichotomy. Ritualization endows these agents with some degree of ritual mastery. A third pattern is seen in Turner’s work, ritual is related to communal unity as opposed to friction and competition, but then it is also the site of mediation between. Bell critiques her for emphasizing the difference between social and physical bodies. 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. To analyze practice in terms of its vision of redemptive hegemony is, therefore, to formulate the unexpressed assumptions that constitute the actor’s strategic understanding of the place, purpose, and trajectory of the act” (85). A new model of ritual based on Durkheim’s ([1912] 1995) theory is developed. 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. A focus on activity itself as the framework within which to understand ritual activity illuminates the complex nature of power relations” (197). promote belief or conviction. Indeed, in seeing itself as responding to an environment, ritualization interprets its own schemes as impressed upon the actors from a more authoritative source, usually from well beyond the immediate human community itself. As practices, they continually play of each other to renegotiate tradition, authority, and the hegemonic order. 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. For example, in “Deep Play,” ritual is depicted like a text which can be decoded but also acknowledges the difficulties of using text as a metaphor, which is echoed by Tambiah (44). Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. That is, people DO ritual, and THINK something else. Ritualization as a strategic way of acting does not see the social agent’s projection of this environment or his or her reembodiment of the sets of schemes constitutive of it. This vision exists as a practical consciousness of the world (common sense) and a sense of one’s options for social action. 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). The last thesis, the one that Bell thinks is best but still problematic, is the definition of reality thesis of Geertz, T. Turner, Douglas, and Lukes. that defines a culture’s sense of reality. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. She then introduces her approach, based on the idea of ritualization, which involves analyzing how certain social actions differentiate themselves from others. The continuity, innovation, and oppositional contrasts established in each case are strategies that arise from the ‘sense of ritual’ played out under particular conditions—not in a fixed ritual structure, a closed grammar, or an embalmed historical model” (124).*. Bell then compares redemptive hegemony to similar concepts like Althussor’s. The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University (USA), USA. I will attempt to develop a fuller description of the strategy of ritualization in order to return to the question with which Part III began, Why and when is ritualization an appropriate and effective way of acting? It is this invisible process of ‘homologization’, driven by the implicit presence of an opposition between conceptual and behavioral categories, that begins to construct a persuasive and apparently logical body of discourse” (21). Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. Geertz, who is focused on meaning, polarizes ethos and worldview, which is parallel to the analogous to the split between action and belief, respectively. Search for more papers by this author. In the organization of this environment some oppositions quietly dominate others but all also defer to others in a redundantly circular, and hence nearly infinite, chain of associations. […] As with the invented traditions described by Hobsbawn and Ranger, various attempts in American society in the last two decades to create new rituals deemed more appropriately symbolic and representative involve renegotiating a repertoire of acknowledged ways of acting ritually. As practices, they invite and expect the strategic counterplay” (140). The person involved misrecognizes this process: the person perceives that the values and experiences come from a place of power beyond the person and her ritual activity. In ritual activity, conceptions and dispositions are fused for the participants, which yields meaning. “...theoretical discourse about ritual is organized as a coherent whole by virtue of a logic based on the opposition of thought and action.” 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. From this perspective one could not seek to construct a theory or model of ritual practice. After he sets up these separate categories, he suggests that ritual that fails is ritual in which culture and social system are discontinuous. It puts interpretive analysis on a new footing to suggest that ritual practices are themselves the very production and negotiation of power relations. Such innovations may be subtle or dramatic; they may radically reappropriate traditional elements or give a very different significance to standard activities; they may overturn meanings completely through invented practices. Bell first summarizes the way theorists have dealt with the relationship between tradition, continuity, and change, pointing out that several scholars suggest a flexibility or oral culture and rigidity of written culture; also, ritual can be fixed activities and also have aspects that adapt. “Herein likes the implicit structural homology: the fusion of thought and action described within ritual is homologized to a fusion of the theoretical project and its object, ritual activity. 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). Responsibility Catherine Bell. Academia.edu no longer supports Internet Explorer. Thus, a cultural focus on ritual activity renders the rite a veritable window on the most important process of cultural life” (28). There are two parts to generating a theoretical discourse: identify a distinct level or mode of analysis and then identify an object of analysis, which is not independent of the mode. 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). In this group are theories that see ritual as a type of routinization or communication. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. Part III: is on theories of ritual as social control. Ritualization is a strategic play of power, of domination and resistance, within the arena of the social body” (204). It is in ritual—as practices that act upon the actions of others, as the mute interplay of complex strategies within a field structured by engagements of power, as the arena for prescribed sequences of repetitive movements of the body that simultaneously constitute the body, the person, and the macro- and micronetworks of power—that we can see a fundamental strategy of power. Bell suggests, as others have too, that these conclusions miss the fact that ritual can construct tradition (example: Bloch’s concept of formalization of speech to form an oratory code). Theorists speculating on ritual have tended to manipulate the thought-action dichotomy in constructing theories of ritual (25): “Hence, I am suggesting that descriptions of how rituals work have been constructed according to a logic rooted in the dynamics of theoretical speculation and the unconscious manipulation of the thought-action dichotomy is intrinsic to this construction” (25). The latter two are noteworthy for their recognition is more complex than simple Durkheimian affect. Different from the ‘laws-and-instances’ mode of theorizing, as Geertz put it, the more recent style of object-and-discourse construction can appear to its participants as antitheoretical and committed to cultural self-reflection. 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 book is organized around a problem it first constructs and then solves—the problem of how the notion of ritual orders a body of theoretical discourse” (8). 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). “What we might call the ‘external strategy’ of ritualization, the very drawing of a privileged distinction between its activities and others, parallels what can be called its ‘internal strategy,’ the generation of schemes of opposition, hierarchization, and deferral by which the body has impressed upon it the schemes that effect the distinctive privileging and differentiation of ritualizing acts themselves. Search for more papers by this author. Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. To analyze practice in terms of its vision of redemptive hegemony is, therefore, to formulate the unexpressed assumptions that constitute the actor’s strategic understanding of the place, purpose, and trajectory of the act” (85). 2 Sahlins 1996, Asad 1993. Some theorists have tried to build on and improve performance theory, but they are still vulnerable to critiques, such as the fact that sometimes ritual isn’t a performance but is intended to cause change in the outside world (43). Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. And yet what ritualization does is actually quite simple: it temporarily structures a space-time environment through a series of physical movements (using schemes described earlier), thereby producing an arena which, by its molding of the actors, both validates and extends the schemes they are internalizing. Green Library. Achetez neuf ou d'occasion “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. 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). 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). Another example of the same circularity of explaining the fundamentals of culture such that the theoretical tool solves puzzles that the theorist tries to explain is the Marxian and Hegelian idea of contradiction. The activity of separating categories is used to imply an inequality between two things (black and white, male and female), and such an activity is harmful, but she also suggests that to understand differentiation as an activity is to understand the basis of theory-making. Incidentally, the reader will find illustrated a type of behavior common in disputes in the world of science. This minimal consent actually contrasts with the degree of conviction frequently required in more day-to-day activities…” (186). Her argument relies on analysis of how language is used (8). Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice<$>, Catherine Bell's sweeping and seminal work on the subject, helped legitimize the field. a coherent set of ideas, statements, or attitudes imposed on people who dutifully internalize them. Yet the domination of the theoretical subject is neither abrogated nor transcended. 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). Catherine Bell Ritual Theory Ritual Practice Oxford University Press USA. Bell argues against Goody, who proposes to throw out the term ritual, which carries with it associations of universality. Just as one may see indigenous (emic) debates and discussions about ritual(s) as a form . ’ is a strategic way of acting in specific social situations. or. Summary: Bell first addresses the question, what is belief? 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. Hence, ideology is. It is a strategic and practical orientation for acting, a framework possible only insofar as it is embedded in the act itself. 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). Within the distinctiveness group, there is a tendency to distinguish the ritual/magical (symbolic and noninstrumental) from the technical/utilitarian (practical and instrumental). Summary: In this chapter, Bell argues that a circular logic arises when theorists base their theories of ritual on depictions of a social order that is derived from assumptions brought in by the theorist. Nor are societies themselves a matter of unitary social systems or totalities that act as one. One is never confronted with ‘the meaning’ to accept or reject; one is always led into a redundant, circular, and rhetorical universe of values and terms whose signification keeps flowing into other values and terms” (106). Download with Google Download with Facebook. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. Ritual is DIALECTIC unlike Saussure’s linguistic theory which is based on dichotomy: “[R]itual is a dialectical means for the provisional convergence of those opposed forces whose interaction is seen to constitute culture in some form” (23). Using the term "ritualization" to describe ritual thus contextualized, she defines it as a culturally strategic way of acting. 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 such, of course, the redemptive hegemony of practice does not reflect reality more or less effectively; it creates it more or less effectively. Grimes suggest that the human body is primary to ritual but explains this because the body can enact social roles and cultural meanings. When analyzed as ritualization, acting ritually emerges as a particular cultural strategy of differentiation linked to particular social effects and rooted in a distinctive interplay of a socialized body and the environment it structures. It is also a vision of empowerment tat is rooted in the actor’s perceptions and experiences of the organization of power. Ritual Studies and the Study of Rabbinic Literature. Bell emphasizes Foucault’s theories of power as local, working indirectly on actions, embedded in networks of relations, and exercised on those who are free and who can resist. Indeed, theoretical discourse about ritual is organized as a coherent whole by virtue of a logic based on the opposition of thought and action. There are four theses: “the social solidarity thesis, the channeling of conflict thesis, the repression thesis, and definition of reality thesis” (171). Yet, other literature shows that “ritual has an important social function with regard to inculcating belief” (186). 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 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). This is a ‘practical mastery,’ to use Bourdieu’s term, of strategic schemes for ritualization, and it appears as a social instinct for creating and manipulating contrasts. First, Bell argues that pretty much all current ritual theory tends to cleave along a fault-line: thought/action is the usual form. Chel Mau. “Skinner finds that despite themselves the major ‘anti-theorists’ of the last few decades have generated comprehensive and architectonic theoretical frameworks. “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. Bell closes the chapter by outlining the relationship between ritualized activities and modes of social organization. Ritual theory, ritual practice. Bell then goes on to outline a brief genealogy of ritual as an analytic term, starting in the 19. 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. Bell then discusses what symbols do: many analyses suggest that symbols serve a purpose of creating solidarity and community integration. Physical description 270 p. Online. The second thesis is forwarded by Gluckman and Victor Turner, who argue that ritual is a way to deal with conflict and restore social equilibrium. 3 For attempts to take early Chinese ritual theory seriously as theory, see Puett 2006; and Seligman et al. That ritual solves fundamental social contradiction is a constructed myth, as is the idea that there’s something fundamental (36-7). To browse Academia.edu and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to upgrade your browser. Sorry, preview is currently unavailable. Ritual studies today figures as a central element of religious discourse for many scholars around the world. “This book undertakes such an analysis in two ways: first, through a critical reading of how the notion of ritual has been used in the study of religion, society, and culture; second, through an attempt to carve out an approach to ritual activities that is less encumbered by assumptions about thinking and acting and more disclosing of the strategies by which ritualized activities do what they do” (4). “In sum, a redemptive hegemony is not an explicit ideology or a single and bounded. Through the orchestration in time of loose but strategically organized oppositions, in which a few oppositions quietly come to dominate others, the social body internalizes the principles of the environment being delineated. The latter may promote the former, but they are distinct. 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. of acting and then turn to explore how and why this way of acting differentiates itself from other practices. 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. This is the perspective that will be developed in the rest of Part II. This environment, constructed and reconstructed by the actions of the social agents within it, provides an experience of the objective reality of the embodied subjective schemes that have created it. It is a strategy intimately connected with legitimation, discourse, and fairly high degrees of social complicity and maneuverability” (192-3). 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. The ritualized environment can translate social problems into the terms of the ritual, not resolving them but diffusing them in this network. Edward Foley. This argument suggests that, historically, the whole issue of ritual arose as a discrete phenomenon to the eyes of social observers in that period in which ‘reason’ and the scientific pursuit of knowledge were defining a particular hegemony in Western intellectual life” (6). Academia.edu uses cookies to personalize content, tailor ads and improve the user experience. 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). That is, the object and the method are actually intrinsic to each other, one demonstrating the naturalness and validity of the other. She suggests that within this discourse of cultural knowledge, there may be attempts to deal with the traditional relationship between subject and theorist which needs to be reevaluated within this new context. Footing to suggest that symbols serve ritual theory, ritual practice summary purpose of creating solidarity and integration! Precedent but is subject to constant reinterpretation and renegotiation one at that ), it simultaneously constructs legitimates... Summary of the thought-action dichotomy and secular power is also a vision of empowerment tat is rooted in social! 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