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Ritual theory begins with Freud and Durkheim, the latter having been more influential in the long run for his emphasis on the meaning and effects of ritual. Although there is no universally accepted definition of ritual, there is a noticeable trend towards a broad understanding: Ritual is shared action with a common focus by copresent participants, resulting in a sense of shared identity, and feelings that can be maintained by appropriate symbols. Ritual does things in the world in addition to creating solidarity (and mobilizing dissent, for example, it can be used to inaugurate presidents, solemnize marriages, or confer degrees.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory
EditorsBryan S. Turner, Chang Kyung-Sup, Cynthia F. Epstein, Peter Kivisto, William Outhwaite, J. Michael Ryan
ISBN (Electronic)9781118430873
ISBN (Print)9781118430866
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • ritual
  • religion
  • ceremony


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