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Initiation Rites

Initiation rites are rituals that mark and facilitate the entry of a person into a group, that is, the person's transition from the status of outsider to insider. Such rites are often referred to as hazing, rites of passage, induction, and trial by fire. Although initiations may have elements of fun, play, and silliness, they are often physically and emotionally demanding, embarrassing, strange, and even painful. Initiation rites serve to underscore that the group is an important entity in and of itself, helping newcomers to identify with the group and helping veterans to accept the newcomers as bona fide members. This entry provides a descriptive overview of initiation rites, discusses some of the reasons research has found for their effectiveness, and looks at groups that ...

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