Rituals – “doctrinal” and “imagistic”

A major aim of the investigation is to test Whitehouse’s theory that rituals come in two broad types,which have different effects on group bonding. Routine actions such as prayers at church, mosque or synagogue, or the daily pledge of allegiance recited in many US elementary schools,a re rituals operating in what Whitehouse calls the “doctrinal mode”. He argues that these rituals, which are easily transmitted to children and strangers, are well suited to forging religions, tribes, cities and nations – broad-based communities that do not depend on face-to-face contact.
Rare, traumatic activities such as beating, scarring or self-mutilation, by contrast, are rituals operating in what Whitehouse calls the “imagistic mode”. “Traumatic rituals create strong bonds among those who experience them together, “ he says, which makes them especially suited to creating small, intensely committed groups such as cults, military platoons or terrorist cells. “With the imagistic mode, we never find groups of the same kind of scale, uniformity, centralization or hierarchical structure that typifies the doctrinal mode,” he says.

“The ritual animal” by Dan Jones
Nature 493 24 January 2013 p470-2

So, how much bureaucratic behavior is “doctrinal mode” ritual? Or rather, how much isn’t?
And how does this above usefully mesh with the concepts of bridging capital and bonding capital?

To (re)-read “Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History” by William McNeill


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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