Structure and antistructure : Victor Turner's theory of ritual I
Source document: Religio. 2005, vol. 13, iss. 1, pp. -28
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
The article gives a survey of Victor Turner's theory of ritual, summarizing its most important points and offering a critical appreciation of them. The first part deals with Turner's early conceptions as sketched in his Ndembu studies of the 1950s-60s. Building up on the new dynamic approach introduced into British anthropology of the 1950s by E. Leach and M. Gluckman, Turner abandoned the static structural model of society, as developed by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, and focused on the dynamic aspect of social relations, seeing society as a drama in constant flow. Ritual is no longer conceived of as an instrument of stability and conservatism, but rather as an institutional framework enabling social change without letting social relations dissolve altogether. It is an arena in which all the conflicting facets of social life are confronted and have a chance to come to terms. This function of ritual is best seen in the nature of ritual symbols and their ability to connect various poles of meaning, thus mediating between ideal norms of the community and the often adverse individual ambitions of its members. ...