Repetition and reintegration: Van Gennep’s structure and routinized warfare

Nitzan Rothem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article presents Arnold Van Gennep’s dynamic structure, suggesting that it depicts phenomena that are both linear and recurring. I elucidate Van Gennep’s structure by closely reading Rites de passage’s penultimate chapter. This chapter, which might seem a mere collection of “leftover” materials, is where Van Gennep’s conceptualization subverts perceptions of structure as a rigid social organization. Here, he does not envision a delimited order, bound by distinct phases of separation, liminality, and aggregation, but rather complexifies these three phases. Van Gennep portrays these phases as repeated beats and pulses, which attain modification and revitalization during events of differentiation and reintegration. This article continues to examine the utility of Van Gennep’s concepts for studying current warfare’s lingering and routinized nature, as an alternative to the study of war through the binary poles of peace and war, order and chaos, and structure and anti-structure. By discussing the 2015 Strategy Doctrine of the Israeli military, I suggest that Rites de passage’s unique formulation of structure allows considering the lingering, cyclical, and ambiguous aspects of current warfare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-329
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Attente
  • passage
  • protracted warfare
  • reintegration
  • repetition
  • the Israeli Defense Forces strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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