This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides discussion of religious, political, aesthetic and life-cycle rituals. The main ritual actions of England are very much connected with the nationally established Church, both at a local level, and at the level of the whole society, as a nation-state. The main assumption is that ritual is more important in industrial societies than has been usually thought. As a consequence sociologists and others, including some clergy, have assumed that ritual action has declined in importance in urban, industrial conditions. This assumption has only been examined systematically within sociology. The main assumption is that ritual is more important in industrial societies than has been usually thought. The book examines new developments in ritual in industrial societies, in the light of the earlier discussion, and in terms of their relation to social change and the counter-culture.