Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice

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Oxford University Press, Jan 30, 1992 - Religion - 270 pages
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Arguing that the concept of ritual is overdue for critical rethinking, Bell here offers a close theoretical analysis of recent developments in ritual studies, concentrating on anthropology, sociology, and history of religions. She begins by showing how discourse on ritual has served to generate and legitimate a limited and ultimately closed form of cultural analysis. She then proposes that so-called ritual activities be removed from their isolated position as special, paradigmatic acts and restored to the context of "social activity" in general. Using the term "ritualization" to describe ritual thus contextualized, she defines it as a culturally strategic way of acting. 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.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Notes
10
THE PRACTICE OF RITUAL THEORY
13
Constructing Ritual
19
Constructing Meaning
30
Constructing Discourse
47
Notes
55
THE SENSE OF RITUAL
67
Ritual Traditions and Systems
118
Notes
143
RITUAL AND POWER
169
Ritual Control
171
Ritual Belief and Ideology
182
The Power of Ritualization
197
Notes
224
Bibliography
239

Action and Practice
69
The Ritual Body
94

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