Reli005
The transformation of traditional rituals: imposed change or natural evolution? (Ritual Year SIEF Working Group panel)

Convenors:
Irina Stahl (Institute of Sociology, Romanian Academy)
Discussant:
István Povedák, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Stream:
Religion
Location:
A227
Start time:
24 June, 2015 at 10:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The panel explores transformations in secular and religious rituals for reasons, such as: restrictions imposed by totalitarian regimes; changes in religious doctrines; economic recession; migration; and modernization; in addition to the natural evolutionary process inherent in human communities.

Long abstract:

Although rituals are commonly associated with unchangeable human behaviour - a ritual is "a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) -, numerous examples within the past century prove the contrary. Rituals change in response to particular circumstances such as restrictive political regimes or as a direct consequence of social change. The panel combines papers dealing with transformations of secular and religious rituals resulting from constraints imposed by authorities (political and religious), or from a natural evolutionary process. It investigates reasons for these transformations, the nature of the changes and their impact on individuals and communities. The panel addresses participants studying the following or related themes: - transformation of traditional rituals imposed by totalitarian regimes (e.g. restrictions on the ritual year and religious ceremonies, such as marriage and baptism, during communism), and the re-use of traditional rituals for political propaganda; - transformation of traditional rituals imposed by changes in religious doctrine (e.g. transformations in the Catholic Church after native languages replaced Latin liturgical services); - revival and transformation of traditional rituals in times of crisis (e.g. economic recession, natural disasters); - transformation of traditional rituals in the context of increased human mobility and migration (e.g. "exported" rituals adapted to suit circumstances of new communities); and, - transformation of traditional rituals due to modernization, technology (e.g. integration of high-tech in rituals, as in broadcasting rituals), and the emergence of a digital culture.