Performing the sacred: A dramaturgical account of eco-catastrophist action (upcoming)

16th European Sociological Association (ESA) Conference, ‘Tension, Trust, Transformation’, Porto, 27–30 August 2024

This paper investigates the urban interventions of Extinction Rebellion through a cultural sociological lens, rooted in neo-Durkheimian theories on ritual performance. The paper’s main claim is that XR actions essentially constitute localized performances of ‘the sacred’ in the broadest sense: the life situation of the collective self. The paper looks at how XR claims its place in the urban public sphere, how it represents the course of history as moving towards apocalypse, and how it uses symbolic materiality to express its fears and demands. As moments of transgressive effervescence, XR actions fuse ‘inwards’ with the participants on the scene but fail to fuse outwards with the observing community-as-audience.

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