Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture

By Holly Everett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Cross Connections,
Social Meanings

Folklorists such as William Bascom have emphasized the integrative functions of traditional culture—validation, the maintenance of conformity, education, and entertainment. In addition, many folkloric forms, such as roadside crosses, function as agents of economic integration and social levelling. It is important to note, however, the non-integrative, or subversive consequences of traditional culture as well.1 It is precisely in such counter-hegemonic expression that grieving individuals often find voice. Thus, roadside cross assemblages require a modified functionalist analysis.

The following discussion is primarily based on data obtained from questionnaires I administered to approximately one hundred high school seniors.2 Additionally, I drew from interviews with individuals connected to and employed by city, county, and state governmental entities, as well as a random sampling of area residents. The analysis also incorporates the words and ideas of individuals introduced in the third and fourth chapters.


Validation and Conformity

The crosses “perform” the function of validation in their public representation of generally accepted, or at least tolerated religious belief. As noted in chapter two, Travis County’s largest religious group consists of adherents to Roman Catholicism, at 48.4% of the total population (Ramos 1997, 489). Christian be-

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Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Chapter One- Memorial Culture- The Material Response to Loss 1
  • Chapter Two- The Cross-Cultural Roadside Cross 15
  • Chapter Three- Roadside Memorial Case Studies 38
  • Chapter Four- Bereavement Made Manifest 81
  • Chapter Five- Cross Connections, Social Meanings 101
  • Notes 121
  • Bibliography 127
  • Index 139
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