In an interesting article, MacClancy & Parkin (1997) argue against my thesis that many European rituals have recently undergone revitalization. Briefly, and contrary to received wisdom, I argued that following a decrease in celebrations through the 1950s, there has, generally speaking, been an increase in ludic aspects and growth in the scale of the celebrations of many European public rituals. At the same time there was a modest decline in religious fervour. I called this pattern revitalization, a shorthand term that covered invention, innovation, reanimation, revival etc., as well as the expansion of existing rituals. Not content merely to record this pattern, I also tried to explain these developments (Boissevain 1992).
Obviously, no single factor can account for the various revivals, but around the beginning of the 1970s several developments affected attitudes to traditional celebrations. These included challenges to accepted authority; increasing dissatisfaction with the consequences of industrialization and urbanization resulting in revalorization of rural values and rituals; growth of mass tourism and the commercial exploitation of public rituals; the declining ability of the Catholic Church to prevent expansion of the ludic aspects of rituals; the decline of emigration and the return of migrants eager to celebrate traditional rituals; and rising pressure for regional autonomy accompanied by a related growth in rituals marking local identity.
The authors question the validity of this thesis. I have, they state, overlooked the possibility that 'many community rituals may also have survived European secularization unimpaired, indeed virtually unchanged, apart from a degree of almost...
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