Revitalization: The Outline

Tue, 23 Jan 1996 10:38:49 CST

I am glad to hear people discussing revitalization movements. Some will
be interested, perhaps, in the original paper, which was by Anthony F.
C. Wallace and appeared in *American Anthropologist* 58 (1956), pp.
264-281. It is reprinted in William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt's widely
used *Reader in Comparative Religion* (4th ed., Harper & Row, 1979), pp.
421-429. Wallace outlines revitalization movements as consisting of
five "somewhat overlapping stages," and identifies "six major tasks"
that the revitalization proper (the fourth stage) must perform. Hence:

I. Steady State
II. The Period of Increased Individual Stress
III. The Period of Cultural Distortion
IV. The Period of Revitalization
A. Mazeway Reformulation
B. Communication
C. Organization
D. Adaptation
E. Cultural Transformation
F. Routinization
V. The New Steady State

I suppose these stages and tasks can be identified, but I suspect that
doing so is mainly a matter of post hoc reconstruction (heuristic, but
non-explanatory). Indeed, the assumption that we can recognize "steady
states" raises that elusive old functionalist chimera, the "adequately
functioning social system." Still, I really like the language,
especially "cultural distortion" and "mazeway reformulation." Wallace
really turned a couple phrases there; anyone can tell that whatever
exactly they are, they are momentous. The evocative phrasing and neat
outline perhaps go far to explain the popularity of the paper. --Bob