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Ritual Participation and Social Support in a Major Japanese Festival

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In this study, residents of Ky├┤to's Gion Festival “float-cart neighborhoods” reveal how ritual participation yields a strong sense of community, and this is connected with several forms of social support. By applying the theory of ritual practice to qualitative research conducted in 2003, I examine how some of the main participants in this month of rites and festivities gain a sense of belonging and emotional support based on their roles in this historically and culturally significant shrine-related festival. Specifically, highly involved male participants form intimate and exclusive relationships and develop enduring networks that offer feelings of unity and spiritual guidance. With a combination of well-accepted “Western” theories and methods, and an understanding of distinct cultural differences, I explore how involvement in a major Japanese religious festival is positively associated with a sense of community and lasting social support.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Michael K. Roemer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station—A1700, Austin, TX 78712-0118., Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2007


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