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Liturgical forms of economic allocations

Dimensions of Ritual Economy

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1485-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-546-8

Publication date: 6 May 2008


This chapter uses the ritual economy approach to examine what can be called “liturgical” economic allocations, which are made by private individuals and can comprise a significant percentage of a society's total expenditures on public works. Such allocations are driven by tournaments of honor that emphasize highly visible acts and public evaluations of status, which turn on one's willingness to put at risk what is most highly valued in society. Unlike philanthropy, participation in these tournaments is necessary to achieve and maintain citizenship, but unlike taxation, where rates are imposed from above, what is given is determined by a complex social negotiation. The chapter argues that the relativity of honor gives such systems a particular dynamic, which is illustrated in several case studies.


Monaghan, J. (2008), "Liturgical forms of economic allocations", Christian Wells, E. and McAnany, P.A. (Ed.) Dimensions of Ritual Economy (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 19-35.



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