Breaking Boundaries: Varieties of Liminality

Bjørn Thomassen (Editor), Harald Wydra (Editor), Agnes Horvath (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review


In an ever more interconnected and interdependent world globalizing tendencies have achieved more uniformity and identity within societies and across civilisations. Conversely, the uncertainties created by globalisation processes have triggered new divisions and antagonisms, which in some cases produce desperate attempts to maintain old or create new differences. Political and sociological research into these complex processes has been mainly guided by structural and normative concerns. Faced with growing evidence about the instability of world order and domestic social structures alike, policy-makers, public intellectuals, and academics have attempted to “control” or channel such processes along the lines of rationalizing and modernizing discourses focused on development and institutional design. Such formal, institutional, and legalistic approaches are quite limited because they often take for granted the question of meaning-formation. This volume intends to gauge cultural dimensions in contemporary socio-political processes of globalisation, especially through the prism of sudden irruptions of existential crisis in people’s lives, loss of meaning, ambivalence, and disorientation. As a fundamental human experience, liminality transmits cultural practices, codes, rituals, and meanings in-between aggregate structures and uncertain outcomes. As a methodological tool it is well placed to overcome disciplinary boundaries, which often direct attention to specific structures or sectors of society. Its capacity to provide explanatory accounts of seemingly unstructured situations provides an opportunity to link experience-based and culture-oriented approaches not only to contemporary problems but also to undertake comparisons across historical periods. From a perspective of liminality, the cultural dimension of human experience is not an obstacle to a more rational and organized world but is creative in transforming the social world by means of rituals, myths, and symbols.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford/New York
PublisherBerghahn Books
Number of pages250
ISBN (Print)978-1-78238-766-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

This anthology has also been published as a paperback in 2017 with the ISBN: 978-1-78533-749-9, eISBN 978-1-78238-767-1 by the same Publisher.

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