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degradation ceremony

Definition of Degradation Ceremony

(noun) A ceremony that transforms or is intended to transform the identity or status of an individual into an identity or status lower down in the hierarchy of a group or institution.

Examples of Degradation Ceremony

Etymology of Degradation Ceremony

Degradation Ceremony Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: deg·ra·da·tion cer·e·mo·ny

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /de-gruh-dAY-shuhn sAIR-uh-moh-nee/
  • British English – /de-gruh-dAY-shuhn sE-ri-muh-nee/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˌdɛgrəˈdeɪʃən ˈsɛrəˌmoʊni/
  • British English – /ˌdɛgrəˈdeɪʃən ˈsɛrɪməni/

Usage Notes

Related Quotations

  • “Degradation ceremonies fall within the scope of the sociology of moral indignation. Moral indignation is a social affect. Roughly speaking, it is an instance of a class of feelings particular to the more or less organized ways that human beings develop as they live out their lives in one another’s company. Shame, guilt, and boredom are further important instances of such affects” (Garfinkel 1956:421).
  • “In short, the factors that condition the success of the work of degradation are those that we point to when we conceive the actions of a number of persons as group-governed. Only some of the more obvious structural variables that may be expected to serve as predictors of the characteristics of denunciatory communicative tactics have been mentioned. They tell us not only how to construct an effective denunciation but also how to render denunciation useless” (Garfinkel 1956:424).
  • “The devices for effecting degradation vary in the feature and effectiveness according to the organization and operation of the system of action in which they occur. In our society the arena of degradation whose product, the redefined person, enjoys the widest transferability between groups has been rationalized, at least as to the institutional measures for carrying it out. The court and its officers have something like a fair monopoly over such ceremonies, and there they have become an occupational routine. This is to be contrasted with degradation undertaken as an immediate kinship and tribal obligation and carried out by those who, unlike our professional degraders in the law courts, acquire both right and obligation to engage in it through being themselves the injured parties or kin to the injured parties” (Garfinkel 1956:424).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Garfinkel, Simon. 1956. “Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies.” American Journal of Sociology 61(5):420–24. doi:10.1086/221800.

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Cite the Definition of Degradation Ceremony

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “degradation ceremony.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 18, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/degradation-ceremony/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

degradation ceremony. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/degradation-ceremony/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “degradation ceremony.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/degradation-ceremony/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“degradation ceremony.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 18 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/degradation-ceremony/>.