dividual rituals are the presence of a single focus of attention, a strong,
consistent emotional reaction, and patterned, rhythmic behaviors.
People must experience both the cognitive and emotional focus of attention for an individual ritual to occur. But this focus is obviously not sufficient to produce ritual effects; the individual must also perform
patterned behaviors around this emotional and psychic focus. The
greater the level of emotional and psychic focus and the more rhythmic
the patterned behaviors, the more likely is it that the individual will
produce a ritual that will be performed for the experience of affect-
meaning-reality construction, and the greater will be the level of emotional energy. A music fan who produces for a given song a particular
set of sequenced actions that are repeatedly performed in a similar
manner with a similar focus, for example, a dance, is an example of a
private ritual. Oftentimes these kinds of rituals incorporate certain
patterned behaviors, like lighting candles and burning incense, that
aid in the focus of attention and recreating the proper emotional mood.
Again, this person will have the tendency to try and translate this private experience into a group ritual by performing it at a concert, preferably with other fans. This link will objectify the individual's
reality, confirm their membership in a social collective, and add to the
level of affect-meaning experienced.
My summary of
Bellah ideas includes work from sources he co-authored
William M. Sullivan,
Ann Swidler, and
Steven M. Tipton
. For ease of discussion, I generally refer to this corpus as simply "Bellah."
The corporate work is distinctly defined by Bellah, as a comparison with Swidler ( 1986) work will testify, and represents a continuation of his earlier
The association between differentiation and problems of coordination and
control was first discovered by Herbert Spencer ( 1873). Also see Jonathan H. Turner
( 1985; 1995) for an elaboration.
It is interesting to note that many of Wuthnow's central concepts--uncertainty, decoupling, and systemic shock--have a great affinity with the literature
on organizations. Uncertainty is a central dynamic in DiMaggio and Powell's
account of institutional isomorphism ( Paul J. DiMaggio and
Walter W. Powell, "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in
Organizational Fields," American Sociological Review, 1983, 48:147-160). Meyer
and Rowan argue that conflicts between the ceremonial rules of an organization
and the demands of efficiency are resolved by decoupling formal structure from
actual work activities ( John W. Meyer and
Brian Rowan, "Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony," American Journal of Sociology, 1977, 83 [ 2]:340-363). And the concept of institutional shock is explicitly
used by Neil Fligstein. He argues that a shock to an institutional field will provide a "turbulence" in the field which in turn will create a gap in the normative,
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Meaning of Culture:Moving the Postmodern Critique Forward.
Contributors: Kenneth Allan - Author.
Publisher: Praeger Publishers.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 1998.
Page number: 96.
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