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Journal Article

Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies

Harold Garfinkel
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 61, No. 5 (Mar., 1956), pp. 420-424
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2773484
Page Count: 5

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Topics: Ceremonies, Shame, Rituals, Identity theory
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Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies
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Abstract

Communicative work directed to transforming an individual's total identity lower in the group's scheme of social types is called a "status degradation ceremony." To reconstitute the other as a social object, the denouncer must get the witnesses to appreciate the perpetrator and the blameworthy event as instances of an extraordinary uniformity, in dialectical contrast to ultimately valued, routine orders of personnel and action. The denouncer must publicly claim and manage the status of bona fide representative of the group of witnesses. From this position he must name the perpetrator an "outsider." Organizational varibles will determine the effectiveness of a program of degradation tactics.

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