Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Social Density and Public Ritual in Non-Industrial Communities: A Cross-Cultural Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1989


An implication of Durkheimian theory-that different types of rites and the elaborate- ness of public rituals are determined by social density-is empirically tested, using data available for 183 non-industrial communities derived from Murdock's Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Support for the hypothesis is sustained even when alternative predicting variables are added. Contrary to social evolutionist theory, an increase in the division of labor does not appear to suppress ritual activity. This reaffirms the interest of some contemporary sociologists in ferreting out the forms and functions of ritual in modem societies.