On social rhythm: A renewed assessment of Van Gennep’s Rites of Passage.


Hochner, Nicole. 2018. “On social rhythm: A renewed assessment of Van Gennep’s Rites of Passage.”. Journal of Classical Sociology 18 (4) : 299 - 312.


Contrary to most readers who have emphasized the notions of passage or liminality, I demonstrate in this study that Van Gennep’s Rites de passage is articulated around the four notions of sequences, margins, passages, and schema. Subsequently, the main claim of this article is to propose the idea of social kinesis—or social rhythm—as the crux of Van Gennep’s theory. Such a fresh reappraisal of Van Gennep is also an opportunity to show how Pierre Bourdieu sought for social laws and regularities in a rather deterministic fashion, and completely overlooked Van Gennep’s idea of motion. More importantly, this article is an invitation to reconsider Van Gennep’s epistemological approach as a bridge between the social and the life sciences. Indeed, Van Gennep’s so-called méthode des séquences emerges from a dialogue between the social sciences and biology on the one hand, and with cosmology on the other. Indeed, I illuminate how Van Gennep investigated the enigmas of social life and dynamics