Ritual in the context of Capitalism


At its simplest, I think that rituals have the potential to carry non-commodified social relations within their very being. And this is important because an increasing amount of our daily activity sits within commodified capitalist relations. When I’m talking about commodification, it’s not so much about the buying and selling of objects, but more about the way social relationship is being replaced by rmarket relation. This happens when economic value is placed on those activities not previously considered in economic terms. Amongst other things, the displacement of social relationships with market relations brings about a proceduralisation of the everyday that is characteristic of what Juergen Habermas calls the ‘colonisation of the lifeworld’ in which rationalising systems infiltrate more and more areas of everyday life substituting informal modes of organisation with capitalist protocols and procedures. For me, rituals are an interesting form for the very reason that they exist through protocols and procedures. Rather than unknowingly replicate protocols embedded in capitalist exchanges, ritual becomes a place where the aesthetics and ethics of protocol can be exposed, and where it is possible to begin to identify capitalist relations in the everyday and re-write them, albeit, for now, within the context of art.