Toward a Theory of Public Ritual

Sociological Theory, Vol. 18, No. 1, , pp. 40-59, March 2000

18 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2009

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: March 1, 2000


Given that holidays both reflect a society's attributes and serve to modify these attributes, they are a valuable tool for a macro-sociological analysis. This paper proceeds by examining Durkheim's well-known contributions on rituals and advancing theoretical ideas on how these might be modified, seeking to develop a theory of holidays. The article concerns the role of holidays in managing tensions and recommitment to values; their role in relating communities to the society at large; their effect on gender roles, and the theoretical issues concerning holiday cycles and holiday-engineering efforts by religious authorities and states that have endeavored to adapt holidays for their own purpose. The article relies on public accounts, personal observations, and findings culled from a few studies by contemporary social scientists.

Keywords: holidays, rituals, tensions, communities, society, religious, states

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Toward a Theory of Public Ritual (March 1, 2000). Sociological Theory, Vol. 18, No. 1, , pp. 40-59, March 2000, Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

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