Rites of Passage


“The problem for me, still today, is that I write purely with one dramatic structure and that is the rite of passage. I’m not really skilled in any other. Rock and roll itself can be described as music to accompany the rite of passage…
…I’m only interested in rites of passage stories.”

Pete Townshend

 
 

Pete Townshend photographed by Anton Corbijn, London, 1982

 
 

A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s transition from one status to another. The concept of rites of passage as a general theory of socialization was first formally articulated by Arnold van Gennep in his book The Rites of Passage to denote rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group. The concept of the rite of passage is also used to explore and describe various other milestones in an individual’s life, for any marked transitional stage, when one’s social status is altered. Gennep’s work exercised a deep impact on anthropological thought. Milestones include transitions from puberty, year 7 to high school, coming of age, marriage and death. Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, akika, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions. Rites of passage show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

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