Are The Three Phases Of A Rite Of Passage Equally Important? Demonstrate Your Argument Through An Ethnographic Example.

1587 words - 6 pages

Rites of passage are something that almost all societies recognise and celebrate. Theses are times of change for an individual or group, when they pass from on state of being into another. Van Gennep split rites of passage into three distinct phases (separation, transition, and aggregation) all of which having to be completed before an individual can move on into their new role/stage.Separation is the ending of the persons' previous stage/role, here they are removed from their usual routine and all that they have grown used to. This can involve merely changing their routine or something as extreme as having to leave their society.The transition or liminal phase is that which most people pay the most attention to when studying rites of passage. This it the phase where the person is in neither stage, an example of this would be a wedding ceremony, as a couple enter the place separate and emerge married, the events in-between are all parts of this liminal phase where they are neither married nor unmarried. During this stage a person may have to pass through some sort of test to prove their readiness or to learn what is to be expected of them within their new role. This phase is known as the most dangerous phase as the person is not belonging to any stage in existence and has to pass through in order to move on.The incorporation stage is the final aspect of a rite of passage. This is when the person is reintroduced and accepted into society within their new role. Returning to the example of marriage this would be at the end of the wedding ceremony, when the couple will reemerge from the location married.All three of these phases are of great importance, and the loss of any one would make the entire rite of passage void and loose its' significance, as for the new self to appear the old has to ritually die and then be re-born as such requiring all three phases. However, when people study the processes of rites of passage they commonly focus upon the liminal phase making this appear most important than the other two. This is merely a case of the anthropologists own discretion, however, concentrating upon the aspect that they find the most interesting and usually has the most involved within it.Due to this tendency of the anthropologist to take an approach which is fundamentally biased towards the liminal phase we must be careful when working with their reports. We can not assume that either the time spent upon the work or the effort put into the recording of detail correlates with the importance.Rites of passage are present within our culture, however, they are thought of neither with the same importance nor always for the same transitions of those within other societies, so we must remember to take this into account and not judge nor interpret these rites according to our own ideals nor social values.Van Gennep (The Rites of Passage.) demonstrated this idea of society and rites of passage though the analogy of a house where individuals are forever...

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