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Oxford University Press


This book undertakes such an analysis in two ways: first, through a critical reading of how the notion of ritual has been used in the study of religion, society, and culture; and second, through an attempt to carve out an approach to ritual activities that is less encumbered by assumptions about thinking and acting and more disclosing of the strategies by which ritualized activities do what they do. I do not provide a comprehensive history of the term, a review of the most famous ethnographic examples, or a revised theory of ritual—useful though these projects might be. The purpose of this book is both more ambitious and more pragmatic— to reassess what we have been doing with the category of ritual, why we have ended up where we are, and how we might formulate an analytic direction better able to grasp how such activities compare to other forms of social action.

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Ritual Theory Ritual Practice


This material was originally published in Ritual Theory Ritual Practice by Catherine Bell, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

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