Ritual in Productive Activity
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ONE of the characteristic features of a primitive economicsystem is the close association between technical processes and ritual activity. Without attempting to give any exact definition of what is meant by ritual it may be described roughly as activity following a set form and pursued for a definite purpose but appearing to the external investigator to lead in itself to no demonstrably practical results for the attainment of that end. A distinction is frequently drawn between those set forms of procedure which are not bound up with ideas of the supernatural -of a magical or religious nature-and are commonly termed ceremonial, and those which are, for which the term ritual is often reserved. Since it is often difficult to decide in practice at what point the association with magic or religion stops, and since there is no general agreement even about the precise connotation of these two terms, the distinction between ritual and ceremonial can be but a rough working hypothesis. Broadly speaking, in a society such as Tikopia, one can distinguish those types of ritual practice which are not governed by express beliefs in the participation of spiritual beings in the activity-such as the transfer of goods at initiation or marriage-from those so governed-as in fishing, agriculture or canoe-building-where invocation of such a being is a part of the practice.