Thursday, April 20, 2017

Literature Review #4

Through the Liminal: A Comparative Analysis of Communitas and Rites of Passage in Sport Hazing and Initiations by Jay Johnson

1. Visual
This article is from the Canadian Journal of Sociology, I couldn't find a picture of the author or anything else relevant.

2. Citation
Johnson, Jay. “Through the Liminal: A Comparative Analysis of Communitas and Rites of Passage in Sport Hazing and Initiations." Canadian Journal of Sociology. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 22 June 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
3. Summary
This paper focuses on sports hazing and initiation. It explains that even though ritual and ceremonies have existed in many types of organizations including greek life, military, and private schools, student athletes usually endure different types of hazing. Regardless there is still a similar characteristic of this "rite of passage" gateways and metamorphosis form pledge to member.

4. Author
I have researched a lot on Jay Johnson and I can't find anything about him since it's such a common name. (will update as soon as I find something relevant)

5. Key Terms
Liminality- comes from the Latin word limens (threshold). "It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer."

Communitas- can be defined as either a characteristic of people experiencing liminality together or to an unstructured community in which people are equal, or to the very spirit of community.

"I argue that varsity sports initiation ceremonies and initiation rituals of other, more ancient cultures are more constructed and function in similar ways and articulate the foal of communitas as defined by Turner. However sports initiations that rely upon practices of personal humiliation, degradation and sexual acts actually prevent the expression of true communitas."

"In general, a common conclusion drawn is that hazing amount men is more likely to be violent in nature and hazing among women is more likely to be psychological/emotional in nature, although this demographic is in flux..."

This paper will help me to explain ritual and the rites of passage in sports since I have already done so with black lettered greek fraternities and sororities from my other literature reviews. The point of including this piece is to give a little background when explaining the similarities and differences between the types of hazing but that they all always link back to the common theme of respected rituals and repetition.

Research Blog #9

Argument and Counter-Argument (need to elaborate)

Research Question: What about rituals makes students more willing to endure torture than they usually would when it comes to hazing? Why do these rites of passage usually include heavy and unsafe drinking as a rite of passage for acceptance into an organization?

The hierarchal cycle of revenge that members of an organization unknowingly participate in, paired with new member’s natural human want for acceptance allows hazing to get to torturous levels.
These rituals, that hold historical value for organizations and serve as important rites of passage, will never cease to exist as long as the repetition of these acts are this valued.

Basically, my argument is that because ritual persists, it allows hazing to continue to exist. Ritual is so respected and sought after that pledges value it and yearn for it.

Literature Review #5

The Historical Significance of Sacrificial Ritual: Understanding Violence in the Modern Black Fraternity Pledge Process by Ricky L. Jones

1. Visual
Author: Ricky L. Jones

2. Citation

Jones, Ricky L. “The Historical Significance of Sacrificial Ritual: Understanding Violence in the Modern Black Fraternity Pledge Process.” Western Journal of Black Studies; Vol. 24 Issue 2, June 2000. Journal.

3. Summary
This paper basically talks about looking at brutal hazing in black lettered greek fraternities in a different light to be able to understand why this brutality takes place. It focuses on the fact that modern pledge is an operation of historical social import as well as a powerful aspect of modern black fraternity life rather than the idea that black men just wish to impose violent behavior on upon one another as an activity. 

4. Author
Ricky L. Jones is a professor at the University of Louisville and his studies include African American politics and leadership, violence and resistance. He was only the second African American to receive a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Kentucky. His studies are relevant to my research on why African American haze in greek life is so much more brutal and how ritual takes apart in the student's endurance.

5. Key Terms
BGL's (black lettered greek fraternities)- I did not know that black fraternities coined their own term and that is was such a widely used concept before I conducted all of this research on it. 

neophyte- a person who is new to a subject, skill, or belief. This term was referred to a lot in the paper because that's what they used to describe what in modern day would be called a pledge, but in ancient times was more related to religions, cults or other ancestor's organizations. 

they "would regard the human body as a prison house of the soul that could be liberated from its bodily impediments with discipline." 

"Modern fraternity initiation rituals are not different from ancient ones in that they also seek to maintain some form of stability within organizations. They are not unique, but synthesis of materials from a number of sources including: historical rituals form other civilizations."

"The fraternal pledge process, however, is unique in two ways. First, it stands alone as the ritual perceived by many fraternity men as mandatory. There exists the belief that if the pledge process is tampered with too extensively or eradicated, the very fabric of the organization will most certainly unravel..."

7. Value
This piece has helped me make sense of my case of the film Burning Sands. In this film, the boys pledging are beaten and emotionally abused but yet still see this as a rite of passage into man hood and of being accepted into the highly respected organization. In this article, Jones explains ancestors of black communities "would regard the human body as a prison house of the soul that could be liberated from its bodily impediments with discipline." This would advance a man from being a level of mortal to that of a God. This helps explain the brutality related to hazing in the black community. 

Research Blog #8

Case: Burning Sands Film
Video Clip

This film, although fiction, depicts real life scenarios from fraternity pledging at an all black university. The director, Gerard McMurray, was himself in a fraternity and felt that this film had to be made and the severity of its violence would impact a lot of people. The film takes you through a week of pledging for the new members of one of the most known to underground haze fraternity at the university. The "rites of passage" are demonstrated so well in this film because there are brutal and emotional damaging things the boys have to do to prove themselves worthy. The brothers constantly make them buy copious amounts of food for them, be on call for any errand they wish, buy them alcohol, yell at them, call them degrading names, beat them, and tell them how unworthy they are to be here. This case will help to illustrate my frame of ritual as repetition and the reasoning behind why these boys allow this brutality to occur. The repetition of ritual and the fact that each senior member in the organization has already gone through it is what makes the brothers more enduring. There is a point in the film where one of the pledges explains that going through this means they will finally be men once initiation occurs and that all of the torture will be "worth it." The writing I've been using to link it to my frame and theory is The Historical Significance of Sacrificial Ritual: Understanding Violence in the Modern Black Fraternity Pledge Process where the author speaks a lot about the historical factor of African American ancestors attributing to why black haze is so brutal.

Research Blog #7

To answer my research questions (what about rituals makes students more willing to endure torture than they usually would when it comes to hazing? and why do these rites of passage usually include heavy and unsafe drinking as a rite of passage for acceptance into an organization?) I developed my frame around the repetition of ritual. Ritual is defined as ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. They are meant to be strange and different or else they would not be considered a ritual. This idea of ritual as a rite of passage discussed in Through the Liminal: A comparative Analysis of Communities and Rites of Passage in Sport Hazing and Initiation has existed as far back as people can remember. This deep rooted respect for ritual in an organization is what allows hazing to become so brutal- new members are told this is what happens to everyone, and they in turn end up doing it to others. The cycle of ritual exists in not only the greek community but also sports teams and black lettered greek fraternities. In The Historical Significance of Sacrificial Ritual: Understanding Violence in the Modern Black Fraternity Pledge Process, Jones discusses how black lettered greek fraternities are known to be way more violent in the pledge process among brothers. The case I have from Burning Sands depicts some of these violent scenes accurately. Jones also explained that black communities have ben trying to figure out why their rituals are known to be so much more violent than other organizations. He says that their ancestors "regard the human body as a prison house of the soul that could be liberated from its bodily impediments with discipline. Rituals would advance him from being the level of mortal to that of a God." The pledging process, hierarchy of seniors, and initiation contribute to the psychological importance of conducting rituals to the individual and organization.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Research Blog #6



This is a picture I found that I think really captures the history of ritual. This picture was taken in Mexico of the Mayans practicing one of their sacred rituals. This will help me demonstrate how important people find their rituals to be because of their historical significance within their organization. 

I kept this visual light and kind of humorous because it's from the show Scream Queens that mocks greek life. The show captures the rituals of one of the top tier sororities on campus and although it is over the top with its details about greek life, it does a really good job of capturing sororities emotional brutality towards new members.


This is a picture of a clip from the film Burning Sands that I spoke about in my presentation. The film will help me to explain how different African American Greek life is with hazing types, but how similar it is when it comes to rituals. Every organization has their own rituals that they value which is what allows hazing to become so brutal. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Undergraduate Research Writing Conference

On Wednesday, I attended the undergraduate research writing conference at the Livingston Student Center and actually learned a lot more than I originally thought I would. The session I attended went from 1:40-3:00 and I chose room 201A where 4 undergraduate speakers presented their topics.
The speaker who stood out to me the most was the first one, Karina Pedetti. Her topic was "The Funny Thing About Depression: Using Humor to Cope." This intrigued me because to the average person, the topic of depression is in fact not funny. However, her point was that society censors both humor and depression. Each emotion is used as a coping mechanism for very strong feelings. Her presentation made me think a lot about mine in the sense of connections I should be making within my research question.