Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification

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Oxford University Press, Dec 24, 1992 - Religion - 238 pages
In this bold theoretical work, Bruce Lincoln explores the ways in which myth, ritual, and classification hold human societies together--and how, in times of crisis, they can be used to take a society apart and reconstruct it. Without overlooking the role of coercive force in the maintenance (or overthrow) of social structures, Lincoln argues his thesis with compelling illustrations drawn from such diverse areas as Platonic philosophy, the Upanishads of India, ancient Celtic banquets, professional wrestling, and the Spanish Civil War. This wide-ranging interdisciplinary study--which draws on works in history, semiotics, anthropology, sociology, classics, and indology--offers challenging new insights into the complex dynamics of social cohesion and change.

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Myth Sentiment and the Construction of Social Forms
The Politics of Myth
Competing Uses of the Future in the Present
Rethinking the Swazi Ncwala
Aspects of Ceremonial Meals
Revolutionary Exhumations in Spain
Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
The Tyranny of Taxonomy
The Dialectics of Symbolic Inversion
The Uses of Anomaly
Unconcluding Postscripts

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Page 5 - There is therefore one language which is not mythical, it is the language of man as a producer: wherever man speaks in order to transform reality and no longer to preserve it as an image, wherever he links his language to the making of things, metalanguage is referred to a languageobject, and myth is impossible. This is why revolutionary language proper cannot be mythical. Revolution is defined as a cathartic act meant to reveal the political load of the world: it makes the world; and its language,...
Page 4 - ... only verbal, but also the symbolic discourses of spectacle, gesture, costume, edifice, icon, musical performance, and the like— may be strategically employed to mystify the inevitable inequities of any social order and to win the consent of those over whom power is exercised, thereby obviating the need for the direct coercive use of force and transforming simple power into "legitimate

About the author (1992)

Bruce Lincoln is Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, the University of Chicago. He has published four other books, including Priests, Warriors, and Cattle: A Study in the Ecology of Religions, which won the American Council of Learned Societies Prize as Best New Book in History of Religions in 1981.

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