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

Nicole Hochner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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 within the framework of his understanding of metabolism and regenerative processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)299-312
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Arnold Van Gennep
  • Bourdieu
  • liminality
  • motion
  • rhythm
  • rites de passage
  • social kinesis


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