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Ritual Change and Social Transformation in Migrant Societies

Edited By Hans-Georg Soeffner and Dariuš Zifonun

Migration involves change of geographical place, social relations and cultural habits. This volume brings together contributions from an international group of scholars including studies of ritual change and social transformation in Singapore, Germany and the US.
In situations of change, individuals as well as social groups mobilize rituals to reaffirm a sense of identity. Usually thinking of rituals as fixed sets of symbolic behaviour, handed down through generations, migration forces a fresh look at rituals: that they are open to change and adjustment as well as means of social transformation. The authors show the challenge of the transformation of symbolic behaviour for those who experience spatial and social change. They emphasise that ritual change is also common when cultures become intercultural.
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Migration and Religion: Beyond Ethnic Community and Ethclass

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1.   Taken for Granted No More

Ulrich Beck’s individualization thesis, as it is to be understood in the following, refers to a historical refiguration of the relationship between the individual and society. It does not mean isolation, but a process that consists of two parts. First, an emergence of the individual from social affiliations that are taken for granted as subjectively experienced. In ‘Beyond Status and Class’ [‘Jenseits von Stand und Klasse’], Beck associates this taking for granted for Germany with the ‘socio-moral milieus’ (Beck 1983: 40) of the modern industrial age, into which one was born as a Social Democrat, a Catholic or a Protestant, and which comprehensively determined one’s entire lifestyle. With the breakup of these large groups since the 50s of the last century – triggered, according to Beck, by social and geographical mobility, the creation of the security and control systems of the welfare state, the internal differentiation of occupational groups, the expansion of social competitive relations, the emergence of urban metropolitan settlements, the expansion of labor market dynamics to larger and larger sections of the population, and ultimately the decrease in paid working hours – the taking for granted of a sense of belonging and lifestyle similarly fragmented.

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