Economy presents the greatest source of uncertainty and disquiet today. This panel focuses on how economic changes are reflected in ritual, and how ritual is reflected in economy. Are rituals a resurgence of making connections in light of markets, or are market economies becoming rituals?
Economy presents the greatest source of uncertainty and disquiet today. From low market economies, traditionally studied by anthropologists, to high market ones in which many of us live, economy is generating disquiet for its deleterious effects on the environment, generation of poverty, increasing disparities in income, control by capital interests, and profligate consumption. Growing numbers of people feel disenfranchised economically and politically by these developments. The effect is great because solutions are not clear to view, easy to bring about, or achievable in the short term.
Our panel focuses on these economic changes in light of their relation to ritual. How are economic changes reflected in ritual, and how is ritual reflected in economy? We wish to rethink economy in light of what ritual does. If ritual is one form of sociality in that it creates connections and pretends to cover gaps that are presented in a social order, then with economic change what is the place of ritual? Does a market economy draw on ritual in the process of accumulation and the promotion of consumption, as in advertising imagery and a rise in festive spending? Does a market economy tend to eliminate rituals in the process of efficiency-seeking? Conversely, are rituals a resurgence of making connections in light of the fractionating effects of markets? If rituals have to do with making sociality, is it possible that market economies themselves become rituals and create new uncertainty?