Divorce Ritual from a Cultural and Religious Perspective

Project: Research project

Project Details


The aim of this Special Issue is to collect descriptions, analysis and evaluations of divorce and end-of-relation rituals from various cultures and religions. In many cultures, the beginning of a relationship is celebrated with family and friends. Relations can be ritualized in both a secular and religious way and in some countries churches have an official role in registering relationships (e.g .Finland and Denmark). In Ritual Studies, marriage or other forms of registering and ritualizing the beginning of a relationship, is considered a transformative ritual (Grimes 2000). But what happens when partners decide to part and a relationship is brought to an end? Do people ritualize the ending of their relation to mark, once again, the transformation from being partners to being separated? There are many practical guides helping partners to work through the process of divorce, with Constance Ahrons’ The good divorce (1994) as a ground-breaking example of this genre. Academic literature regarding divorce or end-of-relation rituals, however, is scarce. Although the literature regarding divorce from sociological and psychological perspectives is overwhelming, with Emery’s Cultural Sociology of Divorce: An Encyclopedia (2013) as one of the main sources, alongside the scholarly Journal of Divorce and Remarriage (since 1977) and the more popular Divorce Magazine (USA and Canada, since 1996), there is hardly any attention paid to the divorce ritual in academic literature, with Bianca’s dissertation (2015) as an exception. The purpose of this Special Issue of Religions is to bring together research regarding secular and religious divorce and end-of-relation rituals. We hope to engage scholars with expertise in various cultures and religions and to offer a selection of articles that is culturally and religiously diverse. Guiding questions are:

In what ways and by what means do churches and secular institutions facilitate divorce and end-of-relation rituals? What are good examples of useful (healing, transformative) divorce rituals?

What is the doctrinal position of churches / religious institutions / religions regarding divorce?

What is the relevance of divorce and end-of-relation rituals for the people involved, from sociological and psychological perspectives? How do these rituals help people to cope with divorce and to re-organize their lives?
Short titleDivorce Ritual
Effective start/end date1/01/221/06/24


  • Divorce
  • Ritual


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