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(2,983 words)

Author(s): Boudewijnse, Barbara
Concept 1. ‘Ritual’ is a common word. In ordinary usage the term presents no problems. It is used for a category of individual or social behavior—such as religious or solemn ceremonies or, more generally, procedures regularly followed—that most people seem to recognize immediately. But the meaning of the term has been far from self-evident to its students. For over a century, ritual has been a ‘standard’ topic of study, especially within the social sciences and history of religion. Discussions ha…