Analysis Of Turner And Bloch's Differing Theories

767 words - 4 pages

Alexandra Harvey
ANTH 425
Turner vs. Bloch Analysis
For many cultures, rituals take part of everyday lives and provide purpose and meaning for life. Simple ceremonies such as a prayer before a meal, a Bar Mitzvah for an adolescent, or even marriage for a loving couples fill our lives with such meaning, but never receive a second thought about the depth behind such rituals. Anthropologists, Victor Turner and Maurice Bloch have both created ritual models that describe the obtainment of higher social statuses. Turner discusses ideologies about liminality and how this relates to the rites of passage for humans. Whereas, Maurice Bloch describes his ideas of rebirth and how they relate to the rituals within various cultures.
According to Turner, the period of transition for humans is a fixed state within one’s culture. As Victor Turner states, “ We are presented, in such rites, with a ‘moment in and out of time,’ and in and out of secular social structure, which reveals, however fleetingly, some recognition of a generalized social bond.” (VT: 96). Thus meaning, liminality is an important concept of transition with regard for social power structures. In Turner’s model of initiation he describes rituals as being a kind of formula consisting of behaviors and relationships, which ultimately result in social change. For Turner, such rites of passage and rituals are not the core structure of life, but rather exponential opportunities within one’s life.
In Turner’s analysis of the Ndembu tribe he found that a man’s transition from childhood to adulthood (Mukunda) that ritual practices are not the foundation of a boy’s adulthood, but rather a transition of possibilities and potential. In the beginning of the three step process of Mukunda all the adolescents start together in the wilderness together eating, singing, and hunting; away from the norms of their society. As the boys continue practicing rituals to gain their rights of passage they go through a period of liminality. During this time of liminality, they are secluded with others which is referred to as “communitas”. This period of liminality is not a basis of social structure, but rather an option to gain potential and ultimately raise one’s status within a community. (VT: 98-103)
In contrast, Maurice...

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