Examine the Role a Belief System Plays in Two of the Societies You Have Studied Essay

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A belief system is a set of beliefs prevalent in a community or society. Malinowski was able to observe the society of the Trorianders of Papua New Guinea and found that one of their main belief systems was magic. He concluded that the magic established the morale of the community whilst re-enforcing social norms, values and hierarchy. He also believed that it acted as “the God of the gaps” – filling in gaps that are otherwise uncontrollable by humans. George Gmelch was able to observe American baseball players and the role of baseball magic. He also found similar concepts to those of Malinowski’s Trobriand magic and established that baseball magic “support Malinowski’s hypothesis that magic appears in situations of chance and uncertainty”. Judith Okely observed the society of the Traveller Gypsies and found that one of their belief systems they practiced was fortune-telling. She had developed the idea that it served many purposes, similar to those of Malinowski and Gmelch, including that it was utilised during times of uncertainty. A ritual is a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order, usually done during a religious ceremony. Rituals in baseball magic are practiced when the “player seeks greater control over his performance”. For example, Lou Skeins would act out a ritual that consisted of reaching into his back pocket to touch a crucifix, straighten his cap then clutch his genitals. Players believe that their ability is constant therefore any variation in their performance is due to something they did or ate. Once they found the cause of their failure or success they either stop what they done or ritualise the action they had done. They believe they can “improve the power of the baseball bat” by sanding it until all the varnish is worn off and then rubbing rosin into it. On the other hand, Gypsy practice their fortune-telling by offering
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