Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Base Articulations of the Liminality Concept

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Base Articulations of the Liminality Concept

Article excerpt


This study aims to clarify the meanings and the semantic articulations of the concept of liminality. The method used in the study is meta-analytic.

a) There is first achieved a historical reconstruction of the concept. The semantic nucleus of the concept is represented by the action of spiritual configuration of events by which individuals are introduced in a transition state from separation to incorporation. This existential event is theoretically approached by Arnold Van Gennep through the syntagm "rites of passage". Subsequently, Victor Turner subsumes the meanings of the spiritual event of passage to a single-word concept "liminality" and talks about "liminoid" events.

b) Afterwards, there is carried out a logical-semantic reconstruction of the concept and there is concluded that the practical articulations of liminality consist in going over three stages of the process of liminality: the ambiguous state, the adaptation to new norms, rules and values and the pre-integration.

As illustration of liminal transition, there is presented the current mass media case in which there is mobilized the idea of persuading the consumers of media messages to adopt a behavior which represents a passage from lack of involvement to social, economic and political involvement/engagement. The conclusion is that a) the world and people in general, are in a constant process of passage, of change, b) that liminality constitutes an important factor of individual and social development, c) and that society is marked by liminality.

Keywords: rites of passage, liminality, liminoid, mass media

1. Introduction

The nuclear ideatic of concept of liminality was introduced by ethnologist Arnold Van Gennep in his book Rites of Passage, published for the first time in 1909. Based on Van Gennep's idea, Victor Turner widened the concept of liminality and introduced a new concept that is correlated with the modern rituals - liminoid. A good example is when a religious holiday is taking place, for example the birth of Virgin Mary, people are going to church. Here, the rituals are facing liminality. But, after the church's rituals are over, people are having a party in order to celebrate the Virgin's name; this time, people are behaving through liminoid (Turner, 1982).

In our time, liminality becomes the bond that connects the media to the public. Mass media is creating rituals; they have the purpose to persuade the audience in order to create a new generation of people. To exit the threshold state, an individual must adapt to the new norms, rules and values in force (Warner & Gabe, 2004; Ivanova & Kudriavtseva, 2015). Depending on the media (news, soap operas, movie, and advertising), people have become more accustomed with the mass media's rituals. Through media, individuals are put every day in the liminality state. Also, the sacredness of the communication is marked by the power of rituals.

2. Space of Liminality

Liminality is a concept that is described as a reflection phase in which the individuals are introduced in a transition state from separation to incorporation (Van Gennep, 1960; Van Gennep, 2011). In liminality, a person is transported in an ambiguous state named by Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner "threshold stage", where the individual is disclaiming his own self where he is dispossessed by what he had.

In the liminal space, the individual is confronting three stages: the uncertainty or the ambiguous state, the possibility to adapt to new norms, rules and values and the third stage is the pre-integration.

The uncertainty is maintaining the person on an unknown level, where his old self has vanished. Now knowing everything that is happening there, the person becomes more careful and aware about what he is saying. The individual relinquishes his past in order to pass the threshold stage. He is perceived as an equal with the other members of the community, but at the same time, the individual does not have any rights anymore. …

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