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The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  678 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, Victor Turner examines rituals of the Ndembu in Zambia and develops his now-famous concept of "Communitas." He characterizes it as an absolute inter-human relation beyond any form of structure.

The Ritual Process has acquired the status of a small classic since these lectures were first published in 1969. Turner demonstra
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Paperback, 232 pages
Published December 31st 1995 by Routledge (first published January 1st 1969)
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John Carter McKnight
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I cannot believe I got through writing a dissertation on techno-utopianism and social change without being made to read this, or at least Chapters 3 and 4, on the dialectic between social structure and "communitas," or ritual or idealized social leveling, and the "liminal," or transitional, as a social relief valve.

On the downside, for me at least, the first two chapters are fairly standard ethnographic case studies of African tribes, and probably not particularly interesting to anyone not study
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Richard
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an awesome book. The first half was kind of slow, but the second half pulled it all together.
Feliks
Challenging topic at which the author does a pretty good job. He's enthusiastic and speaks from wonderful field-experience. Surveys the work of other cultural anthropologists in passing. I picked up a few ideas; but overall not as much as I hoped. It is just a bit too jargon-filled and a bit too rife with footnotes to derive anything but a vague sense of the real contribution this work makes to the field of ethnological studies. Choppy going; (it didn't help that my copy was heavily highlighted ...more
Iman
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout his career, Turner was fascinated by rituals and the ritual process, In this book he builds on theories he developed in "The Forest of Symbols" as he spent several years studying the Ndembu tribes in Zambia, coming up with an extremely profound and influential accounts on the ritual process. Building on Arnold Van Gennep's theories, Turner defines the ritual process as consisting of three phases: a pre-liminal phase (separation), a liminal phase (transition), and a post-liminal phase ...more
Greg
Oct 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
This is one of Turner's earlier works. It is a collection of lectures and therefore less dense than other works. It is primarily a development of van Gennep's theory of liminality in rites of passage. Turner's big contribution is the idea that those who are in the process of a rite of passage and are therefore separated from the social structure and not yet integrated back into the social structure themselves constitute a community.
Nevzat
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of the book which focuses on the semantics and symbolism of certain African tribes’ rituals was interesting, particularly the fact that they use certain objects in their positive meaning (branch a fruitful tree is used as a symbol of fruitful reproduction) and some objects in their negative (a tree that’s name means “to wander around” is used to avoid the subject to stop wandering around).

The difference of Turner’s approach compared to Levi Strauss’ is something to note here and
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Marcus Gordon
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating embellishment of liminal theory, Turner is a pleasure to read, focuses on communitas (sweeping human community) emerging in liminal phases and draws on many historical examples (even hippies!). Very fascinating points made about ritual anti-structures, how states of poverty and lowliness, lend to outsider-ness, the Franciscan monks, for example established a permanent liminal condition by designing a condition of poverty within the order, to reflect Christs poverty. Liminality and it ...more
Samantha Funk
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a book required for a religious studies class that I am in right now. I really enjoyed being critical of it. Basically I gave it a half rating because I am critical of some of the thoughts and opinions, but generally the structure and content is groundbreaking for the field of anthropology and the anthropology of religion.
Suvi
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
The beginning of the book is much more interesting than the latter half, but well worth a read for anyone interested in rituals and societies and their structures.
Ann
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interpretive Frameworks: Symbolic and Interpretive Analysis
The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure by Victor Turner

In The Ritual Process Victor Turner puts forth his concepts of liminality, communitas, structure and anti-structure; further, he demonstrates, through his study of cultural symbols, how individuals give meaning to their world and how this reality can be understood and interpreted through the purpose and function of the ritual process. Highly influenced by A. R. Radcliffe-B
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Abner Rosenweig
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the introduction, Roger Abrahams makes a point to express what a warm, jovial, theatrical personality Victor Turner had. I suspect he does this because these traits--in fact, any detectable hint of personality--are largely absent from Turner's writing. This is a dry, academic work, and as a non-anthropologist, much of it didn't pertain to me. I'm simply not concerned with the finer points of Ndembu ritual. Nevertheless, I found much value in parts of the book (namely, chapters 3 through 5).

I
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Andrew Doohan
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Heavy going but worth persevering, I found this book which examines ritual structures from an anthropological perspective quite interesting in the end. Well worth the effort.

From the back cover:
Looking back nearly a decade after the first publication of his applications of reflexivity to the analysis of ritual behavior and symbolism. Turner wrote of this book that it "represents an attempt to free my own thought, and I hope that of others as well, from grooved dependence on 'structure' as the so
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John
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Somehow I think it would have been much more fun to be in a graduate seminar at the University of Chicago with Professor Turner or even a bar on the South Side listening to the Blues applying all that knowledge, insight and creativity. I have heard some good stories. This book is definitely for the anthropology minded. But the liminal mind as accessed through ritual whether African, Episcopalian (and now I guess we have both joined being the African Episcopalians are a major force in that branch ...more
xDEAD ENDx
I find Turner's work on liminality both important and interesting, but there doesn't seem to be a compelling argument towards the "need" for an interplay (dialectic) between communitas and structure. In other words, the "structure" he nods to seems to be a manifestation of civilization (as far as I can tell, all the tribal groups he speaks of are civilized or at least sedentary agriculturists) rather than an inherent facet of human life and sociality.
Sara Gray
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
While I glossed over the detailed examination of several African tribal rituals (though, to Turner's credit, he deals with these in a presciently even-handed, open-minded manner, surprising considering how long ago this book came out) I got a lot out of Turner's famous examination of communitas versus stratified social structure. I'm already ruminating on the role of communitas in my own life and the everyday rituals I've observed within my culture.
Patrick Oden
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anthropologists or anyone interested in society in transition
Shelves: nonfiction
A classic of anthropology. Victor Turner here describes the concepts of liminality and communitas, the states of transition from one structure to a higher structure. This transition and the community formed by sharing this transition is assessed by description of African tribal rituals and then discussed more broadly in terms of consistent human behavior in many traditions.

Foundational.
Kate
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this is definitely a book to slog through, but it is also a seminal work on the numinous experience--indeed on many sorts of healing experience. Turner turns an anthropologist's eye on ritual. It will change the way you view reality.
Richard
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book when I first read it for Anthro 101 back in the day. I have found it extremely useful in many aspects of my own life and work. I've never forgotten it. In fact, I crack it open once in a while to flip through and re-acquaint myself.
Kirsten
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
A classic in the field of anthropology.
Alex
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beautiful.

Hippies.

Uh... problematic.
Nikki
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mythology
I fell asleep reading the excerpt required from this text....
Kass
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-comm
There wasn't anything particularly wrong with this book, but I found it pretty boring
Maya
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: rituals
An interesting book to read though a bit slow, and it is more about the Ndemba Rituals than anything.
Charles
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
there's veritas... and then there's turner's communitas.
yea dude.
Heather
Jul 21, 2010 added it
Shelves: academic
Understanding the life stage model through the ritual process that is put forth by Victor Turner.
Abby
Apr 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: school-books
the beginning was great but it tottered off in the end.
Tian
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Good, but at times problematic.
Paul Hoehn
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: honors-project
i only kind of read this
Sophie
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: college-books
The chapters on liminality and community's provided really good frameworks for analysis in my religious studies/anthropology course.
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