Orpheus and the Underground

Raves and Implicit Religion -- From Interpretation to Critique

Authors

  • François Gauthier Université du Québec à Montréal

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v8i3.217

Keywords:

youth culture, raves, implicit religion

Abstract

This three-part article highlights a personal liaison with the concept of implicit religion as both cultural analyst and religion theorist. The lack of unity and methodological rigour which characterize the reception of the concept of implicit religion to date fuels the desire to apply it in a systematic fashion to a contemporary youth culture phenomenon which satisfies the orphic metaphor of initiation, night-time and music, and has been widely interpreted as harbouring some sort of religiosity or rapport with the sacred: the English-born-turned-global phenomenon of techno-music-fuelled raves. The first section presents general information on raves, methodological considerations and an ‘ethnographic’ account stemming from field research conducted with a small group of Montreal ravers in 2002. The second section is interpretative, starting with a synthesis of existing interpretations according to which raves are driven by various religious ‘anthropo-logics’. The three definitional vectors of implicit religion are then systematically applied to the material presented in section one, while drawing parallels with Bailey’s (1997) presentation. The third and last part uses the prior analysis as a basis from which to critique the concept of implicit religion. It tries to show how the definition of implicit religion has shortcomings with regards to the orphic—or, more precisely, the transgressive—pole of religion, paramount in the study of raves. It also argues that the concept of implicit religion is tributary of a typically ‘modern’ inflexion permeating sociological theories on religion; an inflexion which has oriented research to date in this field and which has led to confusion as to the status of implicit religion as religion or ‘something like it’. The article closes with a few hints as to which theoretical avenues the author thinks could overcome the conceptual difficulties outlined.

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Published

2005-05-04

How to Cite

Gauthier, F. (2005). Orpheus and the Underground: Raves and Implicit Religion -- From Interpretation to Critique. Implicit Religion, 8(3), 217–265. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v8i3.217

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