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Affected by Ritual. Predictors of Agreement with Church Marriage Rites in The Netherlands

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Why do couples opt for a church wedding ritual living in a modern secularized society. Based on the ritual form hypothesis of Lawson and McCauley, the authors identify the specific church wedding rites as special agent rituals and the rites that form the ritual framework of every eucharist or prayer (and communion) services (eucharistic rites) as special instrument rituals. The participants not only distinguished the church wedding rites from the eucharistic rites, but also discerned a third group of rites, musical rites. 26% of the participants were affected by the eucharistic rites, whereas 63% and 80% were affected respectively by the musical and church wedding rites. The research shows that different indicators of religious socialisation and conceptions of marriage predict the extent to which participants feel affected by the three types of rites. In the case of the musical and church marriage rites the sole influence is the importance attached to participation in ecclesiastic transitional rituals. Conceptions of marriage account for only a small part of the relation between religious socialisation and the extent to which people feel affected by church marriage rituals. Only in the case of the eucharistic rites religious socialisation and conceptions of marriage are decisive. The extend of affection by the church wedding rituals depends mostly on the importance the participants attach to ecclesiastic transitional rituals. The church is seen as a service institution that dispenses transitional rituals. In this way, the church helps marrital couples and their social environment to cope with the contingent elements of these pivotal moments.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Empirical Practical Theology at the Radboud University Nijmegen; 2: Department of Social Sciences at the Radboud University Nijmegen


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