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Rituals of Inversion

  • By: John W. Morehead
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Rituals of inversion, also known as rituals of reversal, occur when a ritual or special event provides a frame that gives license for people to violate everyday cultural norms and social codes. The modifier ritual suggests that these violations are in some sense considered temporary, playful, or restricted to a special time and/or place. It is these constraints and frames that provide license for behavior that would incur social sanctions outside of the ritual setting. Ritual inversions are frequently humorous and often include satire and mockery—expressions intended to elicit a humorous reaction from a given segment of a population by recourse to making fun of another at the other’s expense. This entry considers some common occasions for rituals of inversion before examining the ritual inversion ...

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