Definition of Degradation Ceremony
Examples of Degradation Ceremony
- Courts of law, particularly when an individual is tried and convicted of a crime; and the judge publicly admonishes the individual while reading the verdict and changes their unmarked status to the status of a criminal.
- Public forms of punishment, such as locking an individual in the stocks.
Etymology of Degradation Ceremony
- Coined by Harold Garfinkel (1917–2011) in “Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies” (1956). He defined a degradation ceremony as “[c]ommunicative work directed to transforming an individual’s total identity into an identity lower in the group’s scheme of social types” (Garfinkel 1956:420).
Degradation Ceremony Pronunciation
Syllabification: deg·ra·da·tion cer·e·mo·ny
- 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/
- Plural: degradation ceremonies
- Garfinkel argued that degradation ceremonies are universal in all societies.
- Degradation ceremonies are often rituals, particularly rites of passage performed in total institutions.
- Also called status degradation ceremony.
- “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).
- rite of passage
- symbolic interactionism
- total institution
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “degradation ceremony.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved September 28, 2022 (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 September 28, 2022. https://sociologydictionary.org/degradation-ceremony/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“degradation ceremony.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 28 Sep. 2022. <https://sociologydictionary.org/degradation-ceremony/>.