Constructing Leadership and Authority

  • Florence Faucher-King


According to the British social anthropologist Victor Turner (1989a), there are two opposite models of social organisation. The first, structure, is articulated around statuses, roles and offices. It “tends to be pragmatic and this-worldly”. The second, communitas, often characterises transitional periods of time. Liminality is a period of time, “betwix and between”, when hierarchies and norms of behaviour are temporarily suspended. It is a threshold that is characterised by moments of intense, spontaneous and authentic communication between concrete individuals. The communitas is emotionally rich and fosters feelings of equality and fraternity. It “is often speculative and generates imagery and philosophical ideas” (Turner, 1989a: 133). Communitas is a nearly magical experience of “endless power” in which individuals are collectively empowered as if continuity between participants briefly prevailed (Turner, 1989a: 132). It is, however, often disorderly and therefore an ephemeral and fragile state that soon slips back into structured interactions. According to Turner, societies and groups within them oscillate between these two states of organisation and disorder. In a sense, structure and communitas are interdependent and intertwined.


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© Florence Faucher-King 2005

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  • Florence Faucher-King

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