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Consecration as a population-level phenomenon

Accominotti, Fabien (2018) Consecration as a population-level phenomenon. American Behavioral Scientist. pp. 1-16. ISSN 0002-7642

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0002764218800144


We tend to think of consecration as something happening to individuals: We say that someone has been consecrated when they have been declared a saint, inducted into a hall of fame, or presented with a lifetime achievement award. The present article explores the analytical payoffs of looking at consecration as a population-level phenomenon, that is, as the delineation of clear-cut divides between the chosen and the rest in a population of candidates. This approach, I argue, brings out the unique character of consecration as an abstract process of status formation: It enhances the perceived worth of the consecrated, not by confirming that they are individually worthy, but by asserting the existence in a field of a reliable hierarchy of worthiness. A population-level approach also implies that consecrating institutions derive some of their authority from the forcefulness of the divides they draw between elected individuals and others. The article shows how this explains some of the salient features of retrospective consecration projects. To make these points I analyze cases of consecration in a variety of empirical domains, from politics to the arts, sports, and religion.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2019 14:30
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2024 18:33

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