Emotions in Ritual Theories

  • Meredith RossnerEmail author
  • Mythily Meher
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


What are rituals? How do they help us articulate our identities, our values, and our society? This chapter explores the tradition of ritual theory in sociology, focusing on how it configures emotions, bodies, structures and the self. We begin by tracing the intellectual heritage of ritual theory, initiated by Emile Durkheim, revamped by Erving Goffman, and then further coalescing with the work of Randall Collins. We then consider the different methodologies and approaches available to conduct research on rituals and social interaction, followed by an exploration of select areas of sociological research that draw on ritual theory to illuminate social processes. These areas include: the study of criminal justice and punishment, violence, social movements and activism, economic markets and consumption. This provides a view of how ritual theory can be used to advance research agendas. We conclude by highlighting emergent ideas and nascent challenges for contemporary sociology to contend with, such as questioning the concept of solitary and technology-mediated rituals and the uneasy relationship with macro-sociology and social structure.


Ritual Emotions Microsociology Social interaction 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  2. 2.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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