The University of Wisconsin Press

Cultural Studies / Popular Culture / Childhood


Rituals and Patterns in Children's Lives
Edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson

Popular Press
A Ray and Pat Browne Book

"While some speculate that ritual in American society is waning, nothing could be further from the truth. Rituals are in flux, reflecting . . . changing trends and the power of American mass culture."—Kathy Merlock Jackson

  • Trick-or-treating. Flower girls. Bedtime stories. Bar and bat mitzvah. In a nation of increasing ethnic, familial, and technological complexity, the patterns of children's lives both persist and evolve. This book considers how such events shape identity and transmit cultural norms, asking such questions as:
  • How do immigrant families negotiate between old traditions and new?
  • What does it mean when children engage in ritual insults and sick jokes?
  • How does playing with dolls reflect and construct feelings of racial identity?
  • What does it mean for a child to be "flower-girl material"? How does that role cement a girl's bond to her family and initiate her into society?
  • What is the function of masks and costumes, and why do children yearn for these accoutrements of disguise?

Rituals and Patterns in Children's Lives suggests the manifold ways in which America's children come to know their society and themselves.

Kathy Merlock Jackson is Batten Professor and coordinator of communications at Virginia Wesleyan College. She coedits the Journal of American Culture.

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The cover of Jackson's  book is illustrated with a warm illustration of a school bus, a book, toothpaste, cereal, a birthday cake and a window framing a moon. The colors are soft browns and blue greens.

Spring 2005
LC: 2004025632 GT
296 pp.   6 x 9
9 b/w photos, 8 b/w line drawings

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Cloth $45.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-20830-1
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Updated July 5, 2011

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