Rules and Boundaries in Daily Practices

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  • Topic: Sociology, Kinship, Rite of Passage
  • Pages : 7 (2234 words )
  • Download(s) : 423
  • Published : April 10, 2012
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Rules and boundaries exist in our daily practices. The rules and boundaries are communicated in many different forms within our social lives, governing our social relations. They persist despite the constant flow of personnel and the long-term maintenance of social relations across them (Barth, 1969). Social boundaries are not always obvious and spoken. Our society is made up of different cultures and social classes, however as individuals we all share one thing in common. “In our lives we will pass through many series of passages, from one state to another, usually marked through ‘special acts’ such as a ceremony “ (Gennep, 1960). These special acts are constrained with rules and boundaries that aren’t inevitably apparent. Examples of these special acts include the engaging of romantic relationships as well as celebrating a coming of age in the instance of a 21st birthday. In cultures, other than western, distinct social relations have been observed in anthropologists’ fieldwork. These social relations appear obscure however, for instance, in the case of Claire Smiths study of the complex Aboriginal kinship system which is a sole determinant through ‘skin groups’ in the Barunga-Wuglarr are the relationships occupied in their community. Another dissimilar paradigm is that of Christine Helliwell’s (1996) study into the space and sociality in a Dayak longhouse. Where rules and boundaries are unwritten but understood, governing the social relations of the community and their actions within the longhouse.

Throughout the world and cross culturally there are rites of passage that celebrate the coming of age. The Jewish coming of age is celebrated at the age of 13 with a bar mitzvah. A young lady, traditionally from an aristocratic or upper class family celebrates her coming of age into maturity as a debutante at a ball, usually at the age of 18. Arnold Van Gennep (1960) was one of the first people to explore into the rites of passage. He saw the life of individuals in society as being marked by a ‘series of transitions from one social status to another: youth to maturity; single to married; life to death. No matter what society you belong, these events universally occur and are marked by special ceremonies to allow a person to successfully pass onwards from the status they previously held into the one they are attaining. Gennep explained that these transitions have 3 major sub phases; Rites of separation, a symbol of the desertion of the old phase. Rites of Transition, to some extent a ‘social death’ in which the individual is suspended between old and new status. Victor Turner draws upon Gennep’s ideals and explains this sub phase as ‘the liminal stage’ where which a state of transition occurs, different to pre-liminal and post-liminal phases (Turner 1969). And the last of Gennep’s sub phases is the Rite of Incorporation; a celebration of the new status. Cross-culturally celebrating your 21st birthday is a rite of passage into adulthood. This transition from one phase of social status to another comes with many rules and boundaries. The integration into adulthood is introduced with an expectation of increased responsibility. No longer will certain behaviours within society be accepted as the norm as they were in adolescence. The social boundaries require the integrated adult to identify a standard model of adulthood against which individuals’ practices are commonly judged. Therefore in this society it is to be expected that becoming an adult is a matter of following a tripartite life course that resembles a veritable march through the institutions of marriage, parenthood and work (Kohli, 1986). The coming of age at 21 is the ‘key to the door’ and what follows this status elevation are expectations that one shall follow these rules and boundaries to be incorporated as an adult in the mainstream of society.

Boundary rules and social conventions are set in place when engaging in a romantic relationship to protect primary...
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