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rites of passage

These comprise a wide array of schematic sequences

of action that symbolically mark and

effect a change of social status or identity. Their

distribution is universal. The most familiar and

ubiquitous include rites of initiation, of marriage,

and of graduation, investitures, baptisms, and funerals.

In their majority, rites of passage mark

enhancements of status, but as part of a process

of criminalization or of the sorts of social disqualification

on which Erving Goffman focused in

Asylums (1961) they can serve to mark precisely

the opposite.

In his classic Rites of Passage (1909 [trans. 1960]),

philologist and folklorist Arnold van Gennep

(1873–1957) discerned in the typical rite of passage

three formal stages. The first stage results in

the “disaggregation” – often the literal removal –

of the ritual patient from the collectivity of

which he or she is ordinarily a member. The

second stage imposes a condition of liminality,

of social ambiguity or indeterminacy in which

the ritual patient leaves behind his or her former

status and acquires a new one. The final stage

culminates in the “reaggregation” of the ritual

patient with the collective of which, thus transformed,

he or she can or must henceforth be part.

Van Gennep’s analysis has proven remarkably

durable, if not beyond critical development. Most

notably, in The Ritual Process (1969), Victor Turner

sought to render rites of passage as derivative

elaborations of a more basic binary opposition

between “structure” and the liminal interstitiality

of “anti-structure.” J AMES D. FAUBI ON

ritual


Often scripted, always iterable action whose effectiveness

rests essentially on its being properly

formed and performed, ritual belongs to the most

incidental as well as to the most significant episodes

of human life. The concept of ritual most

broadly rendered includes the casting of spells as

well as the Eucharistic transubstantiation of

bread into the body of Christ, the furtive washing

of the hands as well as the public conferral of an

academic diploma. In “Obsessive Practices and

Ritual Actions” (1907), reprinted in the Standard

Edition, volume IX, Sigmund Freud preserves

such breadth in inaugurating a psychoanalytic

risk society ritual

525

theorization of ritual as a defensive reaction



against anxiety. His perspective has its converse

in the structural functionalism stemming from

the work of E´mile Durkheim. For the rigorous

Durkheimian, anxiety is not the cause of ritual

but the regular symptom of anticipating the great

occasions that it marks. Private ritual, whether

obsessive or merely arcane, is incommensurate

with collective ritual. The former is mere magic,

nonsocial, and perhaps even anti-social. The latter

has its raison d’eˆtre in the maintenance of both

social conformity and social solidarity. With both

Freud and Durkheim, such early anthropologists

as James Frazer (1854–1941) and Bronislaw Malinowski

saw in magical ritual an arrogant or ignorant

attempt to deploy symbols in order to alter the

material world. More appreciative of the effectiveness

of symbols as such, Arnold van Gennep

saw, in the transformation of status wrought in

the typical rite of passage, the service of ritual

symbols in achieving symbolically constituted

social ends. A half-century later, Erving Goffman

returned to rites of passage as mechanisms of

the transformation of social status but also emphasized

the substantial similarities between

theatrical and ritual performance in casting the

individual actor as the dramaturge of the social

self and ritual devices his or her primary means of

“impression management.” Analysts of shamans

and other ritual therapists typically count either

van Gennep or Goffman among their intellectual

ancestors.

Semioticians familiarly posit that myth expresses

and asserts what collective ritual manifests

and enacts. As the performative figuration of

cosmogonic or cosmological reality, ritual action

is sacral action and, as Durkheim insisted, its cardinal

arena is the arena of the religious life.

Following both Durkheim and van Gennep and

inspired by Claude Le´vi-Strauss’s structuralism,

Victor Turner argued in The Ritual Process (1969)

that the suspension of mundane norms of conduct

and the erasure of distinctions of rank and status

that are characteristic of the specifically transformative

or liminal phase of rites of passage

point to a more fundamental binary contrast

between the rule-burdened societas that human

beings must endure and the liberated and egalitarian

communitas that, periodically at least, they

seek. Turner the dualist has his skeptics. He is

also guilty of downplaying the systematic frequency

with which the transformations of ritual

are wrought with and through oppression and

violence. Yet his elaboration of liminality even

so has the enduring virtue of articulating and

accounting for the ritual and sacral aura that so

often and perhaps necessarily attends occasions of

profound social upheaval, creative and destructive

alike. JAMES D. FAUBION

routinization of charisma

– see charisma.

ruling class

– see social class.

Runciman, Walter Garrison (1934– )

A senior research fellow of Trinity College

Cambridge since 1971 and the Third Viscount

Runciman of Doxford, generally known as Garry

Runciman. He was President of the British Academy

from 2001 to 2005. He made important contributions

to the study of social justice in Relative

Deprivation and Social Justice (1966), but he has made

equally significant contributions to theoretical

sociology, for example in Social Science and Political

Theory (1963). He has made influential contributions

to the study of Max Weber in A Critique of

Max Weber’s Philosophy of Social Science (1972) and

edited Weber. Selections in Translation (1978). His

magnum opus is the three-volume A Treatise on

Social Theory (1983–97). In his recent work, he has

defended “the selectionist paradigm,” arguing

that social evolution involves the selection of

institutions that are best adapted to social change.

For example, Runciman contends in “Was Max

Weber a Selectionist in Spite of Himself ?” in the

Journal of Classical Sociology (2001), that we can interpret

Weber’s Protestant Ethic thesis as saying

that there was a historical process of selection in

which inner-worldly asceticism came to fit the

economic needs of the capitalist economy.

BRYAN S. TURNER

rural–urban continuum

A notion which proposes a linear depiction of the

contrasting natures of social relationships characteristic

of rural and urban settlements, this

was a popular conceptual tool for classifying

different types of community and the transition

between them. It arose from early twentiethcentury

sociology trying to understand the social

changes consequent upon rapid urbanization.

Life in the countryside occurred in small, geographically

isolated settlements which were

socially homogeneous, with high levels of mutual

communication and social solidarity, and which

changed very slowly. Urban communities were

attributed the opposite characteristics: L. Louis

ritual rural–urban continuum

526


Wirth (1897–1952) of the Chicago School, in his

highly influential essay “Urbanism as a Way of

Life” (American Journal of Sociology, 1938), thought

cities distinctive because they were large, dense,

and heterogeneous and that this produced the

transient, disorderly, anonymous, and cold associational

relationships of urban living. Such

understandings had affinities with F. To¨nnies’s

a-spatial distinction between Gemeinschaft and

Gesellschaft. In principle, if all settlements could

be placed on such a continuum we would have

a strong account of how spatial arrangement

affected social life. However, subsequent research

largely undermined that idea. Spatial arrangements

themselves are not determinant of social

relations; even if some parts of cities are rather

anarchic, most, for instance the suburbs, do not

conform to the model. One can also find traditional

and interpersonally intimate relationships

in cities, as exemplified by the working

class community of Bethnal Green described by

Michael Young, and conflicts and isolation in the

countryside. Moreover, both city and village contain

culturally distinct groups, suggesting that

there are no dominant cultural forms typical of

settlement type and that settlement type does

not determine the character of interpersonal

social ties. ALAN WARDE

rural–urban continuum rural–urban continuum

527


S

Sacks, Harvey (1935–1975)

An American sociologist, early collaborator with

Harold Garfinkel, seminal ethnomethodologist

and conversation analyst, Sacks received his AB

from Columbia University in 1955, LLB degree

from Yale University in 1959, and PhD from the

University of California, Berkeley, in 1966. He lectured

in sociology at the University of California

at Los Angeles, and at University of California,

Irvine. While Sacks published some landmark

essays during his lifetime, including “An Initial

Investigation of the Usability of Conversational

Data for Doing Sociology” (1972) in Sudnow (ed.),

Studies in Interaction, “On the Analyzability of Stories

by Children” (1972) in R. Turner (ed.), Ethnomethodology,

“On Formal Structures of Practical

Action” (1970, with Harold Garfinkel) in J. Mckinney

and E. Tiryakian (eds.), Theoretical Sociology, and

“A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of

Turn-taking in Conversation” (1974, with Emanuel

Schegloff and Gail Jefferson) in Language, the bulk

of his work remained unpublished until after his

death. Sacks is best known for systematizing the

formal study of language use by means of audiotape

recordings of naturally occurring conversations,

though his work is by no means confined to

this approach. Most prominent among his many

contributions to sociology is the identification of

turn-taking systems in conversation. He also introduced

the study of what he called membership

categorization devices (MCDs) in conversation.

The study of MCDs provides a highly nuanced

analytic appreciation of how interactants utilize

characterizations of their own social identities

and those of others in the course of social interaction.

This research technique allows analysts to

identify empirically how social actors incorporate

social status ascriptions into the conduct of social

interaction at a level of empirical detail still unmatched

by any other analytic approach.

DARIN WEINBERG

sacred and profane dichotomy

Symbolic (as opposed to technical) classification

towards understanding the hierarchical relations

between things in society was a central interest of

mile Durkheim, initially outlined in his coauthored



essay with Marcel Mauss (Primitive Classification,

1903 [trans. 1963]). In The Elementary Forms

of Religious Life (1912 [trans. 2001]), Durkheim elaborated

on two universal categories of things: the

sacred (that is, things set apart and forbidden),

and profane things from which the sacred must

be isolated and protected. As defined by Durkheim,

anything can be consecrated as sacred, and not just

beliefs, ideas, and symbols that might commonly

be thought of as religion. The sacred and profane

are not predetermined but are contingent on the

specific communal and historical context in

which ideas and things are so categorized by the

society’s members; sacred things are continually

being created out of ordinary things. The taboos

or boundaries separating the sacred from the profane

are especially evident in the myriad rituals by

which individual and social deference to the

sacred are maintained. Churches are sacred places

wherein rites demand clearly defined disciplined

behavior in regard to sacred ideas and things; but

the sacred can also be found in a wide range of

ceremonial and ritualized behavior apparent

across everyday life (for example sports events).

The plurality of sacred things points to the many

ways humans affirm the meaning of, and impose

order on, social relations. Although the sacred

functions to unify people by objectively representing

their shared ideas regarding specific things,

what gets defined as sacred (or profane) in everyday

life is frequently contested and a source of

social conflict. In contemporary times, the

sacred–profane dichotomy frequently underlies

the demarcation of domains of knowledge and

activity: religion versus science, emotion versus

rationality, and progress versus the conservation

of tradition (as in definitions of marriage), as well

as taste distinctions (as in foods) in everyday life.

MICHELE DILLON

Said, Edward W. (1935–2003)

Born in West Jerusalem in 1935; his family left

Palestine in 1948. Said was the Parr University

528

Professor of English and Comparative Literature



at Columbia University from 1963. Said made

important contributions to literary and social

theory. Broadly speaking, his work can be divided

into four components. First, he made major contributions

to literary studies, especially to the

study of literature and colonialism, such as Joseph

Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966), Beginnings

(1975), The World, The Text and the Critic (1983),

and Culture and Imperialism (1993). Second, he formulated

a view of the committed and oppositional

role of the intellectual in Representations of

the Intellectual (1994). Third, he explored the question

of Orientalism in Orientalism (1978), Covering

Islam (1981), and Culture and Imperialism (1993).

Finally, he was critical of the state of Israel and

worked towards creating a democratic, reformist

Palestinian political movement in The Question of

Palestine (1979), The Politics of Dispossession (1994),

and The End of the Peace Process (2000). Said, who

supported a two-state solution in the Middle East

conflict, was critical of the Camp David peace

process and the Oslo Accords of 1994 which

resulted eventually in a political compromise between

the state of Israel and the Palestinian

Authorities

Said became a significant figure in postcolonial

theory, and while he made no direct contribution

to sociology, his interpretation of Orientalism had

an important influence on the interpretation of

Islam, the understanding of other cultures, and on

the critique of prejudice. His most significant and

enduring contribution was Orientalism – a sustained

critical analysis of western attitudes towards

the Orient. BRYAN S. TURNER

Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy,

Comte de (1760–1825)

Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon

(1760–1825), was a visionary social thinker who

produced an original synthesis of Francis Bacon,

the Encyclope´distes, and Scottish political economy

(among others), and is now best known as

an influential precursor of socialism (via Ludwig

Feuerbach and Karl Marx), sociology (via Auguste

Comte and E´ mile Durkeim), and technocracy. An

aristocrat who renounced his title during the

French Revolution, Saint-Simon led a turbulent

life as an adventurer, soldier in the American

War of Independence, speculator, and patron of

artists and intellectuals. Through his writings, especially

the journals l’Industrie and l’Organisateur,

he campaigned energetically for a reconstructive

reform of post-revolutionary French society. This

would complete the transformation negatively

begun by the Revolution by providing the framework

for a newly emerging form of society based

on science and l’industrie (organized work), rather

than on theistic religion and military rule. Saint-

Simon first sketched his program in Lettres d’un

habitant de Gene`ve a` ses contemporains (1803), which

argued for a reconstructed polity in which parasitic

remnants of the old regime would be ousted

and the leaders of science and industry would

rule. This reform, though, needed to be complemented

by an intellectual one. Hence his call in

Me´moire sur la science de l’homme (1813) for a science

of society that would both provide a road-map for

reform and complete the scientific revolution,

making it possible to forge a fully scientific

world-view as the basis for a “terrestrial” morality

to hold the new order together. His last work,

Nouveau christianisme (1825), gave these ideas religious

form, proposing that the old Catholicism

should be replaced by an anthropocentric communitarianism

dedicated to the principle that “we

should love one another as brothers.”

ANDREW WERNICK

sampling

In survey research, sampling usually involves

“people sampling.” It is a method for collecting

information from a number of individuals (the

sample) and drawing inferences about a larger

number of individuals (the population or universe)

from an analysis of this information. The

key concepts therefore are the population (the

total target group to which the results of any

analysis are to apply) and the sample (the actual

group of people in the study and from whom the

data are collected). For example, we may be interested

in finding out what the relationship is between

religion and attitudes towards political

violence in Northern Ireland. Because it would

not be possible or practical to investigate this

relationship in the total population, we take a

sample of the population and study this relationship

in the sample.

A sample perfectly represents a population

when the relevant characteristics of the individuals

sampled are present in the sample in exactly

the same way as they are in the population. In

other words, the sample does not need to be representative

in all respects but it must be so in

terms of those characteristics that are of substantive

interest to the study. For example, if you were

interested in studying gender differences in attitudes

towards abortion, a sample will perfectly

Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de (1760–1825) sampling

529

represent the population with respect to gender if



the proportion of males and females in the sample

is exactly the same as in the population. If the

same can be said for all relevant characteristics

of the sampled individuals, then the sample perfectly

represents the population. Such an ideal

situation is never achieved in practice. Samples,

as subsets of the population, are always imperfect

in that some relevant characteristics are present

in the sample in a way that does not match how

they are present in the population. Such imperfections

in the sample are referred to as error

in sampling because they are produced by the

sampling procedure. Error in sampling, or nonrepresentativeness,

threatens the validity of generalizations

in that, if there is enough sampling

error present, it will be impossible to reach any

valid conclusion about the population. In practice,

there are two types of error in sampling: sample

error and sample bias.

Sample error is a special case of random error

produced by chance owing to the sampling procedure.

The presence of such error means that at

least one relevant characteristic will be imperfectly

represented in the sample, but the direction

and size of the imperfection are unpredictable, as

it has been created by chance. For example, if

gender is evenly divided in the population, one

might draw a random sample that consists of 65

percent females. Such an outcome is unlikely but

it could happen given the traditional tendency for

more women than men to be at home during the

day when many opinion poll surveys were previously

undertaken. If it does happen then clearly

the sample is in error with respect to gender and

needs to be corrected.

The second type of error is sample bias, which

is a special case of constant error produced by

the sampling procedure. As in the case of sample

error, the presence of sampling bias means that at

least one characteristic of the population will be

imperfectly represented in the sample. Again assuming

that gender is equally divided in the population,

an example of sampling bias would be a

researcher who is supposed to sample randomly

an equal proportion of males and females but

every now and then he or she abandons the selection

technique and simply chooses a female.

Whenever this error in sampling occurs, it always

favors females. Therefore it is a sample bias.

Sample bias means that the sample does not adequately

represent the target population. Therefore,

any generalizations from the sample to the

population may be invalid. Once a sampling bias

is present, it is very difficult to correct unless

radical steps are taken to improve the quality of

sample selection. If this is not done, the sample

is flawed and must be abandoned. This is not

the case in relation to sample error, which can

be reduced by simply increasing the size of your

sample. As sample size approaches population

size, sampling error must approach zero. After

all, when sample size equals population size, you

no longer have a sample but a population, which

represents itself perfectly.

An important source of sampling bias is a

sample bias. This is the list of the members of

the total population of interest from which the

sample for study is drawn. In practice, however,

the sample frame usually does not in fact cover all

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