In this essay, I utilize resources from the field of cultural anthropology in order to sketch a preliminary basis for reconceptualizing social action. I then apply the theoretical framework to race. In the field of cultural anthropology, I rely on both Arnold van Gennep's talented work regarding rites of passage and Victor Turner’s development of the pattern's liminal phase to outline a structural model of social states linked together by rites of passage. After providing a synopsis of the relevant aspects of van Gennep's and Turner's theories, I argue that rites of passage rely for their existence on the individual's culturally informed ascription of value to positions in social space. I then claim that race in the American South can be pragmatically reconceptualized on this model as an incomplete liminal phase, due to its attributional equivalence with the characteristics of the liminal subject. So formulated, its elimination requires the deliberate manipulation of a group's shared value assignment, though this consequence of the view is only briefly discussed.
|Keywords:||Social Matrix, Liminality, Race|
Graduate Student, Philosophy Department, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
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