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Flashcards in Death and Burial Rites Deck (11)
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Linguistic Turn

A major development in Western philosophy during the early 20th century, the most important characteristic of which is the focusing of philosophy and the other humanities primarily on the relationship between philosophy and language.


Victor Turner

Built on van Gennep and Gluckmans work to develop theories of liminality and transition in rituals and rites, incorporating theories of embodiment. Liminal people in rituals are stripped of their clothes and belongings, behave passively, obey instructions, and neither here nor there. Rank and hierarchy disappears, they are ground down to be made anew. Referred to van Gennep's 'life crises' as 'symbolic social dramas'


Arnold van Gennep

Tripartite model of rites of passage; separation, margin/limen, and aggregation, which take place during 'life crises'; birth, death, marriage, office/rank/state change.
Separation: symbolic behavior signifying the detachment of the individual from a fixed point in the social structure or a set of cultural conditions (a "state").
Liminality: the characteristics of the ritual subject (the "passenger") are ambiguous; passing through a cultural realm that has few of the attributes of the past or coming state.
Aggregation/Incoroporation: the passage is consummated. The ritual subject is in a stable state once more and has rights and obligations vis-a-vis others of a clearly defined and "structural" type.



Another Victor Turner theory. The idea of a "community" ; that society is not inherently hierarchical and structured along politico-economic lines which separate us, but an unstructured and undifferentiated community, which is exposed in liminal periods. Rites of passage and the change possible through liminality leads to positive social action and cooperation (?).


Liminality Case Study

Ndembu of Zambia conduct an installation ritual performed when a new chief is installed. This involves the construction of a ritual hut for the chief and his wife or female slave in which the chief metaphorically 'dies' to be reborn as the chief. The chief is verbally abused and treated as a slave during the liminal time. He is aggregated via the pomp and ceremony of the initiation as chief.



Seeing the world in binary oppositions a la Levi-Strauss and Durkheim; often over relied on in archaeological interpretation.



V. Turner theory referring to processes which put pressure on structure to modify and evolve, empowering a bottom-up struggle for change. Functionalism was deterministic, function determining meaning; structuralism emphasised binary oppositions, encouraging either-or polarity. Turner emphasised impermanence through constant adjustment, ambiguity, seeing binaries as a constantly shifting continuum between two extreme poles. This continuum was what he meant by liminality.


Structuration Theory

Developed by Anthony Giddens in The Constitution of Society. Holds that the structures that humans find themselves in are determined for them, but that they are the elements that recreate social structure and produces social change through exercising agency. 'Structure' to Giddens is not a concrete thing but practices, rules, taboos etc.


Conceptual Metaphors

Explored by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in Metaphors We Live By. Metaphors are not just linguistic devices but used to explain and make sense of entire concepts e.g. time is money or argument is war.


Total Social Fact

Developed by Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, social facts are cultural norms, values and social structures that transcend the individual and can exercise social control. Sociology can be considered the study of social facts.


Embodied Cognition

Lakoff et al. theory that many features of cognition, whether human or otherwise, are shaped by aspects of the entire body of the organism. The features of cognition include high level mental constructs (such as concepts and categories) and performance on various cognitive tasks.