Reconsidering Arnold Van Gennep’s Les rites de passage from the perspective of ‘Performance Studies’

Ruthie Abeliovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article probes into the performative dimensions embedded in Arnold Van Gennep’s book Les rites de passage. Focusing on the tripartite structure of Van Gennep’s ritual scheme, I argue that its current reigning interpretations underestimate what “Performance Studies” heightens: not the ritual and its consequences, but the dynamic passage—the durational procession—delineates the affiliation of the individual to society and outlines the transformative actions a community must undergo in order to secure its survival through time. Thus, rather than focusing on liminality as the pivot of rites of passage, this article addresses the agency of the passage between the three phases of Van Gennep’s ritual model. I offer three central dimensions essential to Performance Studies, through which performativity in Les rites de passage is re-examined: the incursion of the fictional into the social sphere, compulsive repetition, and embodied dynamics are inextricably interrelated dimensions of the processual formation of a tightly knit community through rituals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-298
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Avant-garde
  • Performance Studies
  • body
  • fiction
  • liminality
  • ritual
  • theater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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