In this article I explore the continued salience of Durkheimian effervescence through an examination of ritual activities contained within contemporary English cathedrals. My argument focuses less on collective occasions of creative or destructive tumult and more on ritualised forms of action where modalities of engagement and participation are nuanced, reflexively negotiated and small-scale. My aim is to render more subtle – and potentially productive – our understandings of gradations in ritual intensity.
Durkheim in the Cathedral
Jeffrey Alexander, Bernhard Giesen and Jason Mast (eds.), Social Performance: Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics and Ritual, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, 374 pp.
Ron Eyerman and Lisa McCormick (eds.), Myth, Meaning, and Performance: Toward a New Cultural Sociology of the Arts, Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2006, 166 pp.
The city is a key location of the modern social world, a home of rootlessness and transient everyday encounters between individuals. This essay explores the idea of 'the sanctuary' as a way in which people look for anchorage, and create and re-create images of a society, to cope with and negotiate life in the city. It mainly draws on Durkheim's work on ritual, symbolism and the sacred, together with his account of individual and collective representations. But it also discusses these concerns though other writers, notably Freud and Ricœur, and it draws on Kant's theory of art to introduce how Durkheim sees ritual -especially sacred drama - as at once a symbolism and an aesthetics, complete with the energies of a free creative 'surplus'. Even if in the end 'the sanctuary' is unequal to the marketplace, it is a necessary refuge of the transformative social imagination and a realm, not of everyday economics, but of civitas.
An Alternative Genealogy of <i>The Elementary Forms of Religious Life</i>
Sondra L. Hausner
This article argues that, although we think of Australian tribal ritual as Durkheim’s source material for his masterwork The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, we must also consider the extensive Indological scholarship on which he draws – and with which he debates – as critical inspirations for the text. His extensive engagement with his nephew, Marcel Mauss, whose earlier work, Sacrifice, with Henri Hubert, was premised on an analysis of Vedic ritual, would have been one source for his study of religion writ large; Elementary Forms also takes up in detail the work of Max Müller, among other Indologists, whose work was well known and widely engaged with in the French and broader European intellectual context of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This article argues that the Indological comparative lens was key to Durkheim’s own approach as he worked to articulate the relationship between religion and society; in contrast to the philologists, he argued for the primacy of practice over language in ritual action.
Gilles Montigny, Kenneth Thompson, Derek Robbins, and William Ramp
Bernard Valade (dir.). Durkheim. L’institutionnalisation de la sociologie, (coll. Débats philosophiques), Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2008, 171 pp.
Massimo Rosati. Ritual and the Sacred: A Neo-Durkheimian Analysis of Politics, Religion and the Self, Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2009, 163 pp.
Frédéric Keck. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl. Entre philosophie et anthropologie. Contradiction et participation, Paris: CNRS Editions, 2008.
Christian Borch and Tiina Arppe (eds.), ‘The Sacred’, Special Issue, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, no. 19, Aarhus: University of Aarhus, 2009 (www.unipress.dk)
Roy Rappaport and Jeffrey C. Alexander
Durkheim's 'second program of research' above all refers to his project as developed in Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. This essay examines how it has in turn been developed and taken up nowadays in the work of Roy Rappaport and Jeffrey Alexander. Both of them are concerned with the centrality of ritual and the sacred as active, constitutive elements not just of religion but of all social life, not least modern social life. However, a key difference between them can be found in the issue of the internal dimension of ritual and of the individual's participation in public performance of this. Rappaport emphasizes some sort of general notion of acceptance, in an effort to open up things and get away from the particular epistemological as well as theological commitments of the idea of belief. Alexander still appears to work with the modernist epistemology and 'Protestant' theology of belief. His project of a new Durkheimian cultural sociology has nonetheless itself opened up all kinds of things, and is one of the most creative and dynamic research programs in sociology nowadays.
What, if not Durkheim’s ‘collective representations’ acquired during exalted states of effervescence, gives rise to society, culture and science? Marcel Mauss provides another answer by pointing to the different rhythms of social relationships and the human effort to synchronise them. The seasonal cycle of the Eskimo [Inuit], Mauss argues, is in accord with their game; hence people disperse in summer to pursue economic activities in small bands, while they congregate in dense house-complexes in winter and engage in ritual. It would appear that Mauss draws heavily on Boas’s contrast between the Kwakiutl winter celebrations and their ‘uninitiated’ livelihood in summer. These insights have traction for medical anthropologists who are interested in finding an anthropological explanation for the efficaciousness of ‘traditional’ medicines or ‘indigenous’ healing techniques.
William Watts Miller, W. S. F. Pickering, Giovanni Paoletti, Massimo Rosati, Mike Hawkins, W. D. Halls, Jean de Lannoy, and Alexander T. Riley
Neil Gross and Robert Alun Jones (eds., trans.). Durkheim’s Philosophy Lectures: Notes from the Lycée de Sens Course, 1883-1884, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2004. pp. 339.
Massimo Borlandi and Giovanni Busino (eds.), ‘La sociologie durkheimienne: tradition et actualité. À Philippe Besnard, in memoriam’, Revue européenne des sciences sociales, XLII (129) 2004. pp.410.
Warren Schmaus. Rethinking Durkheim and His Tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2004. pp. 195.
Anne Warfield Rawls. Epistemology and Practice: Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2005. pp. 355.
W. Schmaus, Rethinking Durkheim and His Tradition, and A. W. Rawls, Epistemology and Practice. Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
Jonathan S. Fish. Defending the Durkheimian Tradition: Religion, Emotion and Morality, Aldershot: Ashgate. 2005. pp. 207.
E. Dubreucq. Une éducation républicaine. Marion, Buisson, Durkheim, Paris: Vrin. 2004. pp. 236.
Annette Becker. Maurice Halbwachs. Un intellectuel en guerres mondiales, 1914-1945. Paris: Agnès Viénot. 2003. pp. 478.
Jeffrey Alexander. The Meanings of Social Life, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 2003. pp. 296.
Randall Collins. Interaction Ritual Chains, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. 2004. pp. 464.
accepting institutions mechanically, the individual recognizes himself only if they make sense to him. This is true even with regard to rituals and cults. ( Boudon 2000: 67–68 ) Boudon's recent interpretation of Durkheimian sociology is mainly summarized in
Adeel Hamza and John Gannon
magic’ and make it conform to the spirit of science, Darmesteter, as a rationalist/modernist (Strenski’s words), opposed the ritualizing tendencies of the priesthood. But whether we look at writers divided up by Strenski (1997: 99) into ‘Jews who studied