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Chapter 2 THE MUTUAL-FOCUS / EMOTIONAL-ENTRAINMENT MODEL AT THE CENTER OF AN INTERACTION RITUAL is the process in which participants develop a mutual focus of attention and become entrained in each other’s bodily micro-rhythms and emotions. This chapter will present the details of this process in an explicit model of processes that take place in time: a fine-grained flow of micro-events that build up in patterns of split seconds and ebb away in longer periods of minutes, hours, and days. Rituals are constructed from a combination of ingredients that grow to differing levels of intensity, and result in the ritual outcomes of solidarity, symbolism, and individual emotional energy. This model enables us to examine carefully each part of the process. We will see what contingencies and variations can occur in each segment , and what effects these have on the outcomes. There are many different kinds of collective consciousness or intersubjectivity: different kinds of group membership, of symbolism, and of emotional tones of social experience. I will put forth a theory of how variations in interaction rituals generate the myriad varieties of human social life. At a number of points, it is possible to bolster the theoretical model by empirical evidence from contemporary microsociology, notably studies of verbal conversation and studies in the sociology of emotions . As an illustration of what we can get from theoretical analysis of live video recordings of natural human interaction, I will present an analysis of a documentary film of firefighters and street crowds in the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City. This raw data brings out vividly how some IR conditions lead to merely momentary, others to long-term, effects. RITUAL INGREDIENTS, PROCESSES, AND OUTCOMES Figure 2.1 depicts interaction ritual as a set of processes with causal connections and feedback loops among them. Everything in the model is a variable. Interaction ritual (IR) has four main ingredients or initiating conditions : 48 CHAPTER TWO common action or event (including stereotyped formalities) righteous anger for violations group assembly (bodily co-presence) RITUAL INGREDIENTS group solidarity emotional energy in individual symbols of social relationship (sacred objects) standards of morality RITUAL OUTCOMES barrier to outsiders mutual focus of attention shared mood feedback intensification through rhythmic entrainment collective effervescence transient emotional stimulus Figure 2.1 Interaction ritual. 1. Two or more people are physically assembled in the same place, so that they affect each other by their bodily presence, whether it is in the foreground of their conscious attention or not. 2. There are boundaries to outsiders so that participants have a sense of who is taking part and who is excluded. 3. People focus their attention upon a common object or activity , and by communicating this focus to each other become mutually aware of each other’s focus of attention. 4. They share a common mood or emotional experience. These ingredients feed back upon each other. Most importantly, number 3, the mutual focus of attention, and number 4, the common mood, reinforce each other. As the persons become more tightly focused on their common activity, more aware of what each other is doing and feeling, and more aware of each other’s awareness, they experience their shared emotion more intensely, as it comes to dominate their awareness. Members of a cheering crowd become more enthusiastic , just as participants at a religious service become more respectful and solemn, or at a funeral become more sorrowful, than before they began. It is the same on the small-scale level of a conversation; as the interaction becomes more engrossing, participants get caught up in the rhythm and mood of the talk. We shall examine the micro-empirical evidence on this later. The key process is participants’ mutual entrainment of emotion and attention, producing a shared emotional / cognitive experience. What Durkheim called collective consciousness is this micro-situational production of moments of intersubjectivity. MUTUAL FOCUS / ENTRAINMENT 49 There are four main outcomes of interaction rituals. To the extent that the ingredients successfully combine and build up to high levels of mutually focused and emotionally shared attention, participants have the experience of 1. group solidarity, a feeling of membership; 2. emotional energy [EE] in the individual: a feeling of confidence , elation, strength, enthusiasm, and initiative in taking action; 3. symbols that represent the group: emblems or other representations (visual icons, words, gestures) that members feel are associated with themselves collectively; these are Durkheim’s “sacred objects.” Persons pumped up with feelings of group solidarity treat symbols...


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