Religion and rituals

Social anthropologists study religion as an important part of the beliefs and ideas people have about themselves, each other and the world they live in.

What is religion?

Patterns of behaviour and social issues related to these world views are of particular interest, as is the relationship between the world views and the social conditions they are bound up with. Religion can be studied on a par with world views without religious content, but social anthropologists are interested in religiousness as a cultural phenomenon in itself and the significance religion has for people around the world, often in a comparative perspective.


What do rituals do?

Linked to religious ideas and practices are a variety of rituals. Rituals can be understood both as planned patterns of behaviour within particular organized contexts and as systematized behaviour in general. Repetition is an important aspect of all ritual behaviour. Rituals are meaningful behaviour, and the meaningful content of different rituals is an important field of research in social anthropology, as it is often the key to understanding comprehensive systems of meaning. Like world views rituals need not have a religious content, although it is usual that they have.

Published Oct. 14, 2011 1:36 PM - Last modified Nov. 3, 2016 1:06 PM