A SHORT OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY AND PROBLEMS OF FRENCH SYMBOLIC ETHNOLOGY
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The authoress aims at presenting tendencies, options, debates and evolution of approaches concerning the notion of 'the symbol', ways of studying symbolism, briefly speaking everything that is connected with the French symbolic ethnology. The article is just an attempt to systematize the history and main interests of this discipline in France. Symbolic ethnology in France has been constituted by its main subject: the category of the complex symbolic forms: ritual, holiday, ceremony and narrative. It has undergone an evolution in a 'double' aspect. First, there was an essential change of the general paradigm concerning essence and objectives of scientific cognition. (decline of the Enlightenment paradigm).Then there were 'internal' changes which expressed themselves in debates on denotation of the concepts of 'symbol', 'ritual', 'folk culture', 'traditional' or 'folk' or 'peasant' culture (as until the end of the 1980s the studies of the above mentioned problems and concepts were closely connected). In this article particular emphasis has been put on works concerning forms of Catholic religiousness ( by Albert Piette, Laurence Herault and Jean Cuisenier who studied new contemporary forms of funeral ceremonies).The authoress is also presenting texts showing changing denotations and significance of the concept of 'folk culture'. She tries to explain research methods and interpretations of the French authors: Robert Pannet, Gerard Cholvy, Marie-Helene Froechle-Chopard, Christan Bromberger, Daniel Fabre, Claudine Fabre-Vassas. One can't say that French symbolic ethnology is much ahead of the related disciplines in other countries. In Polish social sciences the 'classic' names of French ethnologists: Marcel Mauss, Claude Levi-Strauss and Emile Durkheim are widely known. Nevertheless, apart from them, the names of the French-language representatives of that discipline are not mentioned very often in Poland. The authors mentioned in this article represent the more important French research centers and deal with the studies on religion and religiousness. This short outline shows us a homogenous image. In the development of the discussed approach many problems and reservations have been appearing resembling those put forward by Polish ethnologists with reference to similar subjects. Specific for this kind of ethnological approach is, that 'folk culture' (or 'culture of folk type') is not identified with 'peasant culture', 'rural culture' any more. French symbolic ethnology studies ritual forms which are seemingly strictly liturgic (particular religious acts of Roman Catholic Church). In their studies they join the interpretation and explanation of the 'social' and 'cultural' dimensions of the phenomena belonging to the 'symbolic sphere' of particular cultures and societies.
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