International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 332

Full Length Research Paper

Ecological stress and deritualization in East Asia: Ritual practices during Dark Age phases

Daniel Sarabia1* and J. David Knottnerus2
  1Department of Sociology, Roanoke College, 221 College Lane, Salem, VA 24153. (540) 375-2220. 2Department of Sociology, Oklahoma State University, CLB 006, Stillwater, OK 74078.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 21 April 2009
  •  Published: 31 May 2009



Despite highlighting the implications of resource over utilization and scarcity on social systems, recent studies under explore the impact of environmental stress on culture. Specifically, further research is needed to understand the importance of natural resources for ritual practices. This study utilizes structural ritualization theory to analyze historical periods characterized by ecological degradation and deritualization. The period examined corresponds to the former and latter Han Dynasties, a moment in time that saw the first universal history of China written and where discussion of ritual appears prominently in historical documents. In addition to primary texts, secondary sources are used to examine deritualization and the continuity, abandonment, and emergence of new ritual practices. The results demonstrate that despite periods of resource unavailability social rituals survive. By tracing the introduction of Chinese ceramics and burial practices into the Korean peninsula and Japan, we see the strategies human communities employ when they can no longer obtain needed materials to practice specific rituals.


Key words: Structural ritualization, environment, dark ages, ritual.