Chapter 8: Play, Art, Myth and Ritual
Play: A framing (or orienting context) that is
consciously adopted by the players;
somehow pleasurable; and
systemically related to what is nonplay by alluding to the nonplay world
and by transforming the objects, roles, actions, and relations of ends and
means characteristic of the nonplay world.
Art: ‘Play with form producing some aesthetically successful transformation
representation’ (Alland 1997: 39).
• How does this definition of art challenge or confirm your previous understanding
Myth: A representative story that embodies a culture’s assumptions about the way
society, or the world in general, must operate
• May explain or account for various human/animal behaviours and suggest how to
interpret or understand various aspects of life.
• Teaches appropriate behaviours through metaphors for social or individual
As social charter this is why we do as we do.
As cognitive explanationthis is why it all makes sense.
• ‘Correct doctrine’; the prohibition of deviation from approved mythic texts
• ‘Correct practice’; the prohibition of deviation from approved forms of ritual
Ritual: A repetitive social practice set off from everyday routine and composed of a
sequence of symbolic activities that adhere to a culturally defined ritual schema and are
closely connected to a specific set of ideas central to the culture.
• May be secular or sacred collective behaviours aimed at maintaining order or
bringing about change.
1) Ritual is a repetitive social practice composed of a sequence of symbolic
2) It is set off from the social routines of everyday life.
3) Rituals adhere to a characteristic, culturally defined ritual schema.
4) Ritual action is closely connected to a specific set of ideas that are often
encoded in myth.
Ritual as an action: Rites of passage
A ritual that serves to mark the movement and transformation of an
individual from one social position to another
Rites of Intensification
Other rites Thinking about play
Communicating about the process of communication, talking about talking.
A cognitive boundary that marks certain behaviours as ‘play’ or as ‘ordinary life’.
Decisions we make about how to see something.
Critically thinking about the way one thinks; reflecting on one’s own experience.
Active reflection on thought and action.
Some effects of Play:
• Imitation Learning by trying things out.
• Rehearsal for ‘real world’, experimenting with social roles and behaviours.
• ‘Edutainment’ Entertainment & Education
• Imagination and innovation, novelty, experiments and possibility.
• Undermine the status quo, explore, create and try on new things.
• An aggressively competitive, often physically exertive activity governed by
gamelike rules that are ritually patterned and agreedupon by all participants
• Sport and the nationstate
• Sport as metaphor
Sculpture and the Baule Gbagba dance
Vogel’s four forms of Baule sculpture
1. Art that is watched (performances featuring carved masks)
2. Art that is seen without looking (sacred sculpture)
3. Art that is glimpsed (private sculptures for hunting and for spirit spouses)
4. Art that is visible to all (the profane; everyday objects)
More examples of art
Dance and Gender in Northern Greece
Gender roles in dance
Mass media in Egypt
Chapter 10: World View The Role of Metaphor, Metonymy and Symbol
Metaphor: a form of language that asserts a meaningful link between two expressions
from different semantic backgrounds.
Ex: Canada = cultural mosaic (represents the diversity of Canada)
Metaphorical subject: the first part of a metaphor, which indicates the domain of
experience that needs to be clarified.
Metaphorical predicate: the second part of a metaphor, which suggests the familiar
domain of experience that may clarify the metaphorical subject.
Metaphoric entailments: all the attributes of a metaphorical predicate that relate it to the
culturally defined domain of experience to which it belongs.
Metonymy: the culturally defined relationship of the parts of a semantic domain to the
domain as a whole and the whole to its parts.
Symbol: as people increase their understanding of themselves and the wider world by
creating metaphors, they devise symbols to remind themselves of their significant insight
and the connections between those insights.
Summarizing symbols: represent a whole semantic domain and invite us to consider the
various elements within it.
Elaborating symbols: represent only one element of a domain and incite us to place that
element in its wider semantic context.
Key metaphors: metaphors that serve as the foundation of a worldview
Worldviews: are attempts to answer the following question: what must the world be like
for my experiences to be what they are?
Social metaphor: a worldview metaphor whose model for the world is the social order.
Organic metaphor: a worldview metaphor that applies the image of the body to social
structures and institutions.
Technological metaphor: a worldview metaphor that employs objects made by human
beings as metaphorical predicates.
Computer metaphor: a technological metaphor that employs computers as metaphorical
Religion: Ideas and practices that postulate reality beyond that which is immediately
available to the senses.
Minimal categories of religious behavior
2) Physiological exercise
4) Mana: superhuman power that is sometimes believed transferable
7) Sacrifice Universal aspects of religion:
Altered states of consciousness:
Dreams, alcohol, drugs, hallucinogens provide evidence of the unseen world of
spirit, we see the dead, experience the unreal/sacred domains.
We observe the difference, postulate a life force that moves after death, afterlife
speculations, E.B. Tylor Animism the spirits residing in things. Totems, Idols
R. MarrettAnimatism or impersonal powers, forces of good and evil.
Explanations for our origins and the unknown.
Science is only recent, religions explained complex philosophical questions of
life, death and existence.
Worldviews in operation
Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande
Mangu, or witchcraft beliefs
Patterns of witchcraft accusationconfrontationresolution
Mind, Body, and Emotion in Huichol religious practice
Unity symbolized by deer, maize, and peyote
Magic: a set of beliefs and practices designed to control the visible or invisible world for
Oracles: invisible forces to which people address questions and whose responses they
believe to be truth.
Maintaining and changing a worldview
Syncretism: the synthesis of old religious practices (or an old way of life) with new
religious practices (or a new way of life) introduced from outside, often by force.
Revitalization: a conscious, deliberate, and organized attempt by some members of a
society to create a more satisfying culture in a time of crisis.
Religion and secularism
Secularism: the separation of religion and state, including a notion of secular citizenship
that owes much to the notion of individual agency developed in protestant theology. Religious organization:
Religions often use metaphor to communicate.
Religious organization varies, but anthropologists have identified two broad
categories of religious specialists:
Shamans: small scale religions (healers, diviners, part time religious
practitioners with individual powers to communicate with invisible forces,
for the benefit of all, male or female, European witches);
Priests: large scale religions (also rabbis, imams etc., full time
practitioners skilled in ritual and scripture, lead religios activities, bury
and marry, typically found in complex hierarchical societies).