The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

Synopsis

With the increasing focus on the concept of culture by sociologists and other social scientists, there is now a need for clarifying and developing theoretical perspectives on this issue. The contributors to this volume have answered this call, each adding new insight to the debate over culture, its definition, and its relationship with other basic categories in sociological theory. Along the way they touch on other fundamental issues, such as the interrelationship of culture with society, the human personality, and the wider environment of the human condition.

Excerpt

In these pages I present the results of my exploration of an idea that germinated—vaguely—in my mind several decades ago and has developed, irregularly, right up to the present time. I have come to call this idea “the odyssey experience.” Its essentials are laid out in detail in chapter I and elaborated in the remainder of the volume. a first approximate definition for that term is a finite period of disengagement from the routines of life and immersion into a simpler, transitory, often collective, and often intense period of involvement that often culminates in some kind of regeneration. All the substantive processes included in this volume—rites of passage, pilgrimages, religious conversion, travel, leaves of absence, absorption into a social movement, and some ordeals—are subsumed under this general definition.

The origins of the idea are in my autobiography, but within that I can distinguish between personal and intellectual origins, if that distinction has any meaning. On the personal side, I have experienced, throughout life, many such episodes, though at the . . .

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