Re: Rites of Passage

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax (
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 19:47:40 -0800

These remarks are addressed mostly to Shannon. wrote:
> In article <>, Shannon Adams writes:
> >I am just finishing a paper dealing with a rite of passage among
> >the people I studied. But I have a few curiosity questions for all you
> >theorists and ethnographers.
> >
> >What purpose do rites of passage serve beyond the transfer of status?

What do you mean by transfer of status? Funerals are a rite of passage
which tend to recognize a change in status rather than transfer status.
(One exception is ritual murder which causes the change in status.) :)

> >Is there some social-psychological motivation? What are the implications
> > >for secular (not ritual) peoples?

Here's a good question for you: are you sure that these "secular" people
are without rituals? I think we like to believe that we are completely
free of superstition and bias, but a little self-examination will reveal
that these things still cling to our psyches. (One of my favorites is
the person who believes that he/she has completely shed all her/his
biases and superstitions. This, in itself, is evidence of the superstition
of completely dispassionate science. But I digress.)

Maybe the way to approach the question, Shannon, is to ask what kinds of
rituals we so-called secular people have? Anyone else out there want to
throw in with some examples?



> >
> >Shannon
> >
> Consider the phenomenon that things that are easily gotten aren't valued
> (socially) or appreciated (at an individual level) as much as those things
> you've got to struggle and sweat for. Rites of passage may in themselves
> be ordeals, or they may celebrate the fact that one has surmounted an
> ordeal. Think of fraternity hazing. Think of the Bakatman described by
> Barth, the Gnau described by Lewis.

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