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Thirteen ways of looking at a ritual.

Collins, P. J. (2005) 'Thirteen ways of looking at a ritual.', Journal of contemporary religion., 20 (3). pp. 323-42.


'Ritual' has long been a key concept in anthropology and many 'rituals' have been identified, described, and interpreted. In most cases, those interpretations have been generated and presented by anthropologists. Occasionally, however, the interpretations of participants themselves are presented and can be equally multifarious. These sets of ways of looking at 'ritual' may or may not overlap. In this paper, I present thirteen ways of looking at one particular 'ritual' - the (British) Quaker meeting for worship - and suggest that ways of looking are sometimes shared by academics and adepts. I conclude from this, firstly, that we are likely to produce an impoverished understanding of social phenomena when we ignore the interpretations of protagonists and, secondly, that to eschew a multivocal appreciation of 'ritual' will result in an unnecessarily crude representation of social life.

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Record Created:16 May 2007
Last Modified:30 Jul 2010 16:36

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