Sociologists A%omile Durkheim, Erving Goffman and Randall Collins broadly suppose that ritual is foundational for social life. By contrast, this book argues that ritual is merely surface, beneath which lie status and power, the behavioral dimensions that drive all social interaction. Status, Power and Ritual Interaction identifies status and power as the twin forces that structure social relations, determine emotions and link individuals to the reference groups that deliver culture and administer preferences, actions, beliefs and ideas. An especially important contention is that allegiance to ideas, even those as fundamental as the belief that 1 + 1 = 2, is primarily faithfulness to the reference groups that foster the ideas and not to the ideas themselves. This triggers the counter-intuitive deduction that the self, a concept many sociologists, social psychologists and therapists prize so highly, is feckless and irrelevant. Status-power theory leads also to derivations about motivation, play, humor, sacred symbols, social bonding, creative thought, love and sex and other social involvements now either obscure or misunderstood.
Engaging with Durkheim (on collective effervescence), Goffman (on ritual-cum-public order) and Collins (on interaction ritual), this book is richly illustrated with instances of how to examine many central questions about society and social interaction from the status-power perspective. It speaks not only to sociologists, but also to anthropologists, behavioral economists and social and clinical psychologists - to all disciplines that examine or treat of social life.