All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Douglas P Fry

Advisory Committee Members

Peter Verbeek

Peggy Balch

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Reconciliation is the process by which social animals maintain valuable social relationships. It has been documented in many species including humans and nonhuman primates. While evidence of rituals has been seen in other species, the primary aim of this research is to explore how ritual behaviors are interconnected to human acts of reconciliation. Rituals are habitual activities closely linked to important events and reaffirm the identity of those who practice them as a group or a society. They are found in every society, culture and religion. In this study, rituals specifically related to reconciliation were exhibited in 27 of 138 coded preindustrial societies, all of which practice some form of reconciliation. The sample was taken from Murdock and White’s Standard Cross Cultural Sample of 186 societies. These rituals were identified as belonging to three specific types of relationships: spousal, interpersonal, and intergroup. Although the total number of societies with rituals of reconciliation constitute a small percentage of the societies known to practice reconciliation, an emphasis on rituals might provide insight into the necessary components of reconciliation in time and space. Thus, this research may shed light on the integral role of ritualized behavior in the maintenance and repair of valuable human relations.



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