Please forward this error screen to sharedip-10718041246. More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals. During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may phantom tollbooth essay questions thrown into doubt.
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The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established. The term has also passed into popular usage, where it is applied much more broadly, undermining its significance to some extent. Van Gennep, who coined the term liminality, published in 1906 his ‘Rites de Passage’, a work that explores and develops the concept of liminality in the context of rituals in small-scale societies. Van Gennep began his book by identifying the various categories of rites. He distinguished between those that result in a change of status for an individual or social group, and those that signify transitions in the passage of time. This stage involves a metaphorical “death”, as the initiate is forced to leave something behind by breaking with previous practices and routines.
Two characteristics are essential to these rites. First, the rite “must follow a strictly prescribed sequence, where everybody knows what to do and how”. Second, everything must be done “under the authority of a master of ceremonies”. The destructive nature of this rite allows for considerable changes to be made to the identity of the initiand. During this stage, the initiand is re-incorporated into society with a new identity, as a “new” being.
To gain a better understanding of “tripartite structure” of liminal situations, one can look at a specific rite of initiation: the initiation of youngsters into adulthood, which Turner considered the most typical rite. In such rites of passage, the experience is highly structured. By constructing this three-part sequence, van Gennep identified a pattern he believed was inherent in all ritual passages. Their status thus becomes liminal. In such a liminal situation, “the initiands live outside their normal environment and are brought to question their self and the existing social order through a series of rituals that often involve acts of pain: the initiands come to feel nameless, spatio-temporally dislocated and socially unstructured”. Turner, who is considered to have “re-discovered the importance of liminality”, first came across van Gennep’s work in 1963.
Within the works of Turner, liminality began to wander away from its narrow application to ritual passages in small-scale societies. He became aware that liminality “served not only to identify the importance of in-between periods, but also to understand the human reactions to liminal experiences: the way liminality shaped personality, the sudden foregrounding of agency, and the sometimes dramatic tying together of thought and experience”. Turner posits that, if liminality is regarded as a time and place of withdrawal from normal modes of social action, it potentially can be seen as a period of scrutiny for central values and axioms of the culture where it occurs. According to Turner, all liminality must eventually dissolve, for it is a state of great intensity that cannot exist very long without some sort of structure to stabilize iteither the individual returns to the surrounding social structureor else liminal communities develop their own internal social structure, a condition Turner calls “normative communitas”‘. However, Turner’s approach to liminality has two major shortcomings. Second, again staying too close to his own experiences, Turner attributed a rather univocally positive connotation to liminal situations, as ways of renewal. However, liminal situations can be, and in actual fact in modern era, rather quite different: periods of uncertainty, anguish, even existential fear: a facing of the abyss in void.
The following chart summarizes the different dimensions and subjects of liminal experiences, and also provides the main characteristics and key examples of each category. Twins are permanently liminal in some societies. Another significant variable is “scale,” or the “degree” to which an individual or group experiences liminality. When the spatial and temporal are both affected, the intensity of the liminal experience increases and so-called “pure liminality” is approached. The concept of a liminal situation can also be applied to entire societies that are going through a crisis or a “collapse of order”. It was essentially a time of uncertainty which, most importantly, involved entire civilizations.
Seeing as liminal periods are both destructive and constructive, the ideas and practices that emerge from these liminal historical periods are of extreme importance, as they will “tend to take on the quality of structure”. Liminality in large-scale societies differs significantly from liminality found in ritual passages in small-scale societies. In ritual passages, “members of the society are themselves aware of the liminal state: they know that they will leave it sooner or later, and have ‘ceremony masters’ to guide them through the rituals”. In such cases, liminal situations can become dangerous. Individuation begins with a withdrawal from normal modes of socialisation, epitomized by the breakdown of the personaliminality’. Thus “what Turner’s concept of social liminality does for status in society, Jungdoes for the movement of the person through the life process of individuation”.
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