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Page history last edited by jami Lenz 15 years, 7 months ago

Emile Durkheim believed every society has a form of solidarity that can be recognized through its rituals. That is, rituals are grounded in the reproduction of solidarity. Some of our rituals include the Pledge of Allegiance, Thanksgiving dinner, flag rituals, etc.


Durkheim's study of religion meshed with his study of knowledge. He suggested it is not about the content, but about our classification of the world, or how we make sense of the world through categories. Our system of categories is reflected within certain social dynamics. He believed two of these categories to be the Sacred, and the Profane. 

The Sacred is endowed with special meaning. It involves ritual care and requires specific treatment. The Profane on the other hand does not require any ritual care or treatment, but is siimply dealt with in a mundane, everyday way.

He then distinguishes between negative rituals and positive rituals. Negative rituals are conducted to maintain the essential separation or boundaries between the sacred and profane. Keeping kosher plates for example. Positive rituals are intended to bond people. A sports event or pep rally for example.

In this way, Durkheim believed rituals, symbols, icons, and shrines create shared meaning and are therefore essential to our sense of solidarity. This transformation of relations into things, the sacred and profane, is needed to create and maintain social bonds. These rituals can be rooted in religion, like the symbol of God, or situated in the contemporary Cult of the Individual, like the modern mascots.

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