Birthday Parties: A Study of Developmental Change in American Culture
Article first published online: 23 DEC 2008
Copyright 1981, American Anthropological Association.
Central Issues in Anthropology
Volume 3, Issue 1, pages 17–27, May 1981
How to Cite
Klein, J. (1981), Birthday Parties: A Study of Developmental Change in American Culture. Central Issues in Anthropology, 3: 17–27. doi: 10.1525/cia.19184.108.40.206
- Issue published online: 23 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 23 DEC 2008
The complex interrelationships among ritual, life course transitions, and altered states of consciousness (ASCs) are examined on a theoretical level. ASCs are an important and relatively new concept in anthropological studies of transition and change. Hypersuggestibility, a characteristic of ASCs, is the key element of this analysis.
Birthday parties are analyzed as a life course ritual. Their efficacy in facilitating transition is evaluated in light of the issue of the potential of a series of less intense rituals versus the potential of one major ritual for effecting change. Stress is a crucial element of this problem. A symbolic analysis of those elements of birthday parties relevant to the main thesis supports the conclusion that birthday parties are a significant life course ritual in American culture.