Initiation ceremonies: a cross-cultural study of status dramatization

Bobbs-Merrill Indianapolis Published In Pages: ??
By Young, Frank W.


This book investigates a broad hypothesis linking social solidarity and initiation ceremonies. The author proposes that “the degree of solidarity of a given social system determines the degree to which status transitions within it will be dramatized” (1). A variety of operational hypotheses are supported for both male and female initiation ceremonies.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
HRAF Collection of Ethnography (paper/fiche)

Hypotheses (13)

"Those subsistence tasks in which all or almost all the men participated operated as alternative forms of solidarity" (69)Supported
"Forms of armed conflict that, as a unit, actively involve all or nearly all the men of the community are associated with solidarity" (70)Supported
"As male solidarity is more institutionalized, the elaboration of initiation ceremonies increases" (74)Supported
"Male solidarity dissolves the relationship between the two childhood factors [exclusive mother-son sleeping arrangement and patrilocal residence] and male initiation" (77)Supported
"[There is] an association with dramatization (of male sex role at adolescence] in the case of adolescent shift of sleeping quarters and boyhood ceremonies, but no such association for childhood festivities" (82)Supported
Male solidarity has a curvilinear relationship with the complexity of the local community. Where local autonomy prevails and division of labor is minimal, men's organizations are lacking. Under conditions of high social complexity, on the other hand, complex division of labor undermines male solidarity. Therefore, male solidarity is strongest at the middle levels of community complexity (100, 104)Supported
"Horticulturalists . . . followed by traditional agriculturalists . . . are most likely to have . . . multifemale household organization. . . . The single woman family is increasingly frequent as one moves from food gatherers to modern agriculturalists" (92)Supported
"There is an association between male solidarity [and type of female household organization]" (93)Supported
"[There is a] curvilinear [relationship between] articulation level [community complexity] and elaboration of female initiation ceremonies and female solidarity type [female work groups, institutionalized household unity]" (110)Supported
"In the clan communities and those with a rule of exogamy there is [an] increase in the percentage of the more elaborate parenthood ceremonies (fewer no-clan communities have elaborate parenthood ceremonies)" (115)Supported
"The postpartum taboo on a mother's sex relations is associated with corporate family organization" (121)Supported
"The percentage of male and female initiation ceremonies showing some decline is greater in the modernized communities than in those of medium articulation--this supports hypothesis that articulation weakens solidarity which is related to degree of [sex role] dramatization" (130)Supported
"The level at which . . . organized conflict is carried on rises as one moves from food gatherers to the modern agriculturalists" (90)Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas Amelia Piazza