Sociologists Ã‰mile Durkheim, Erving Goffman and Randall Collins broadly suppose that ritual is foundational for social life. By contrast, this book argues that ritual is merely surface, beneath which lie status and power, the behavioral dimensions that drive all social interaction. Status, Power and Ritual Interaction identifies status and power as the twin forces that structure social relations, determine emotions and link individuals to the reference groups that deliver culture and administer preferences, actions, beliefs and ideas. An especially important contention is that allegiance to ideas, even those as fundamental as the belief that 1 + 1 = 2, is primarily faithfulness to the reference groups that foster the ideas and not to the ideas themselves. This triggers the counter-intuitive deduction that the self, a concept many sociologists, social psychologists and therapists prize so highly, is feckless and irrelevant. Status-power theory leads also to derivations about motivation, play, humor, sacred symbols, social bonding, creative thought, love and sex and other social involvements now either obscure or misunderstood. Engaging with Durkheim (on collective effervescence), Goffman (on ritual-cum-public order) and Collins (on interaction ritual), this book is richly illustrated with instances of how to examine many central questions about society and social interaction from the status-power perspective. It speaks not only to sociologists, but also to anthropologists, behavioral economists and social and clinical psychologists - to all disciplines that examine or treat of social life.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Status and power; Derivations from status-power theory; Status-power and collective effervescence: I; Status-power and collective effervescence: II; Ritual: Goffman's big idea; Situation, occasion, gathering, encounter and social relations; Reading Goffman in status-power terms; Collins's interaction ritual; Collins's power and status rituals; Talking, talks, thinking and thought; Entrainment, mutual entrainment and self-entrainment; Emotions: status-power vs. interaction ritual theory; Sex and love; Prediction and postdiction; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
Theodore D. Kemper is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at St John's University, New York, USA. He won the T. F. Evans prize in the Shaw Society of the UK's 'Write like Shaw' contest in 2011 for his fourth act to the George Bernard Shaw play, Candida.