The Devil’s Playground
We as human beings naturally strive to participate and be active members of a “society” or a culture in order to feel incorporated into some kind of structure. Within a structured “society” there must be an in-between or “threshold people” (1 pg. 95), which is depicted by Victor W. Turner as liminality. Liminality is a state of being in-between a structured society or “limbo of statuslessness” in which the individual or group becomes homogenized (1 pg. 97). An example of a liminal culture is the Amish; they separate themselves from the “outsiders” to avoid sin. Within the Amish culture they have communitas which defined by Tuner as no social structure; this period of time is demonstrated by the Amish before they join the church or become baptized. In the book “The Ritual Process Structure and Anti-Structure” by Victor Turner, Tuner defines liminality, communitas, rituals of status elevation, rituals of status reversal, and religions of humility; in which all aid to analyze the Amish culture in the film Devil’s Playground.
Liminal individuals or cultures are those who are on the margins of society. The Amish in my perspective live in the margins of society, in-between law and structure. They willingly withdraw from normal norms of those around them. To the outside world they are in a state of communitas with no structure outside of their culture and are all homogenized, undifferentiated and equal.
The film Devil’s Playground depicts the common Amish teenager undergoing “rumspringa” (2) which is a liminal state of being for the Amish. During this period the Amish teenager is granted the liberty of experiencing the world outside of their culture. They are allowed to dress “English”, smoke, consume alcoholic beverages, talk on cell phones, drive automobiles, and a chance of courting; which are all prohibited once they join the Amish church. When the Amish teenager leaves to be in a liminal state as Turner...
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