Significance Of Rites Of Passage

1103 Words 5 Pages
4. Why are rites of passage culturally significant?
Word Count: 1091
Rites of passage take place throughout the life course and are of immense cultural significance (Van Gennep, 1960). These rites may be linked to life crises, for example; birth puberty; and death, or to entry into certain societal groups (Turner, 1967, p7). Through discussion of rites of passage as they interact with the life course; specifically with marriage and puberty; this essay will analyse how these rituals contribute to social differentiation and classification with regards to age and gender. This essay will then focus on initiation, as a cultural rite of passage, into adulthood or a social group, which acts to increase solidarity and social cohesion among initiates
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This can be seen in the ethnographic film Two Girls Go Hunting (1990), which can be analysed using Van Gennep’s tripartite structure (1960). The bride is first separated from her family, and then shaved, in the initial phase of separation from her previous life. She is then kept under the care of her mother-in-law, which can be seen as a phase of liminality. Finally, in a rite of aggregation, she meets her husband, who beats her with whipping wands in a display of dominance and submission which forms the basis of their relationship (Two Girls Go Hunting, 1991, Lydall, 1994). This rite of passage is a process of separation and re-birth as her husband’s wife, and must establish certain societal norms for their marriage. As Lydall argues, the initial process of beating allows the husband and wife to feel more at ease with one another and their respective roles and responsibilities of marriage …show more content…
Through analysis of how they apply to the rituals of marriage and puberty, they can be seen to influence and be influenced by social classification within the society. Undergoing a rite of passage means undergoing a transformation of role and responsibilities, and of society’s view. Rites of initiation, both at puberty and to specific social groups, are of particular cultural significance, as they increase solidarity and social cohesion within the society (Whitehouse, 1996). Finally, it is also possible to demonstrate that rites of passage reproduce societal roles and norms, with lasting effects, through analysis of the ritual of marriage in

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