Relational ritual

Dániel Z. Kádár
Table of contents

Since the publication of Erving Goffman's (1967) renowned study, ritual is regarded as a pivotal relational phenomenon in pragmatic inquiries. Goffman aimed to translate traditional ethnographic concepts of ritual research “to grasp some aspects of urban secular living” (Goffman 1967: 95). Despite this innovative stance, ritual continues to be represented in the field in a somewhat traditionalistic way, and in fact ritual is often used as an umbrella term for the conventionalised aspect of language usage, and it is regularly associated with certain speech acts, such as greetings, performed in specific institutional settings (see e.g. Rash 2004; Collins 2004; and Zhu 2005). Such a perception of rituality is problematic because it represents ritual as a rather specific and formalised aspect of language usage, and so it fails to capture the complex interactional and relational functions of rituals.

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