Rite of passage

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Rites of passage or passages rites ( French rites of passage ) denotes an influential ethnological concept in 1909 by French anthropologist Arnold van Gennep was introduced. He had observed that in the course of a person's social life numerous transitions have to be made between two life stages or social conditions, for example between childhood and adulthood , single life and marriageBeing an outsider and being an initiated member, or between the external, alien world and the familiar environment. Van Gennep noted that these transitions, which are an integral part of social life especially in non-industrial societies , are viewed as a potential danger; accordingly, they could not be performed individually, but would have to be mastered ritually.

These ritual activities, which primarily served to safeguard the unprotected, because undefined, intermediate state between the two states or positions at the beginning and then at the end of the transition, van Gennep called transition rites . He analyzed their structure primarily on the basis of the subgroup of initiation rites of non-industrialized, segmental , indigenous societies. He worked out a 3-phase model, which all rites of passage structurally follow:

  1. Replacement phase ( separation )
  2. Intermediate phase ( liminality ): undefined and particularly susceptible to the influence of malevolent forces
  3. Integration phase: the new identity is adopted

All three phases correspond to certain isolable subgroups of rites, which can occur with different weightings within the entire ritual of passage:

  1. Separation rites (rites de séparation)
  2. Threshold or conversion rites (rites de marges)
  3. Affiliation rites (rites d'agrégation)

Van Gennep's theory was developed further in his concept of symbolic anthropology ( interpretive ethnology ) , especially by the British ethnologist Victor Turner (1920–1983 ).

A sociological further development of the van Gennep concept is the theory of status passage .

See also