Bell uses these three patterns to show how prevalent the bifurcation and then reunification at the site of ritual is: “Each of these examples employs the two structural patterns described previously: ritual is first differentiated as a discrete object of analysis by means of various dichotomies that are loosely analogous to thought and action; then ritual is subsequently elaborated as the very means by which these dichotomous categories, neither of which could exist without the other, are reintegrated” (21). 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. 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).*. Edward Foley. Available online At the library . Indeed, theoretical discourse about ritual is organized as a coherent whole by virtue of a logic based on the opposition of thought and action. 3 For attempts to take early Chinese ritual theory seriously as theory, see Puett 2006; and Seligman et al. Summary: The body is the focus of this chapter. Example from Mauss of the method/subject reliance in work on gifts (49-50), Geertz on culture and meaning (50), and Ricoeur on text and social action (50-51). […] 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. This object will act as the natural object of the specified mode of analysis, although the object so identified is not independent of this analysis; it is constituted and depicted as such in terms of the specified mode of analysis. “In the final analysis the results of such a differentiation between thought and action cannot be presumed to provide an adequate position vis-à-vis human activity as such. This third part engages yet another fundamental query: When and why do the strategies of ritualization appear to be the appropriate or effective thing to do?” (169). Bell argues against Goody, who proposes to throw out the term ritual, which carries with it associations of universality. Most attempts to define ritual do so by setting up a universal, and therefore incomplete, definition of ritual. 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. To browse Academia.edu and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to upgrade your browser. “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). She concludes, “These studies give evidence for the ambiguity and instability of beliefs and symbols as well as the inability of ritual to control by virtue of any consensus based on shared beliefs. examining the present status of the theory of ritual by means of a study of a controversy between what are perhaps its two most important experts. Geertz is a primary example: Geertz distinguishes between cultural and social system, where the former is symbolic and the latter is action-based (33). Instead, I have proposed a new framework within which to reconsider traditional questions about ritual. 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. This is the perspective that will be developed in the rest of Part II. 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 … Summary: Bell first sets up the problem with ritual theories that have been created thus far. 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). Using the term "ritualization" to describe ritual thus contextualized, she defines it as a culturally strategic way of acting. “The main argument suggests that ritualization is a strategy for the construction of a limited and limiting power relationship. “Ritualization sees its end, the rectification of a problematic. Specifically, the distinctive elements of ritual practice are shown to induce altered subjective states and effortful and/or … This group runs the risk of analyzing all parts of human life as ritual. 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. Is described as action which is done without thought, an extreme bifurcation ( )... 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