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Towards a generic model of religious ritual

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Chapter Summary

This chapter identifies, somewhat synoptically, three mainstream approaches in the empirical study of ritual. It shows how some elements of these approaches can be incorporated into a simple theoretical model that provides a generic framework for subsequent elaboration. The chapter illustrates that aim by focusing on one aspect of the model, namely ritualising as a specific activity. It examines the socio-scientific field of religious ritual with a view to constructing an analytical model of religious ritual that can be used in empirical research. The chapter focuses on socio-scientific theories that allow us to analyse, explain and compare the formal, secular characteristics of ritual in religions. It provides a simple model of religious ritual that can be used for conceptual design in empirical research. The three basic theories in the empirical study of the meaning of religious ritual are functionalism, structuralism and interactionism.

Keywords: conceptual design; empirical research; functionalism; generic model; interactionism; religious ritual; socio-scientific theories; structuralism



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