This Is Not … a Shock: On the Passage Between Multiple Worlds

  • Paul Stenner
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)


This chapter examines Alfred Schutz’s thought-provoking concept of ‘shock experiences’. Schutz distinguishes the 'worlds' of dream, play, theatre, humour, religion and science from the world of ‘everyday life’. He considers the transition from daily life to each of these worlds to be a shocking experience and in so doing he strangely exaggerates the shock whilst ignoring actual experiences of shock. The main point of the chapter is that Schutz’s multiple worlds can be illuminated by liminality theory. The liminal is tightly connected to the sacred, but to grasp this it is necessary to deconstruct the purified concept of the sacred proposed in the influential tradition of Robertson Smith, and to grasp the sacred experientially as an inherently ambiguous and ambivalent wavering between worlds: as a way of making sense of experiences of liminality. This volatile ‘double-worldedness’ in turn sheds new light on the nature of dream, play, theatre, painting, religion and so on as liminal worlds-between-worlds, and it draws attention to ritual and the arts as liminal affective technologies for fabulating and navigating liminal experience ‘betwixt and between’ worlds.


Shock Experiments theatreTheatre paintingPainting playPlay dreamsDreams 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Stenner
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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