Exploring Notions of Liminality

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Traditional viewpoints of transitions are that they are a ‘rite of passage’ in which humans will undertake rituals signifying transition to a new life-phase (e.g. girl to woman; single to married etc.). These transitions are denoted by fixed points in time, often a ceremony (e.g. marriage: Van Gennep 1960). Transitions in this sense are conceptualized as having phases, pre-transition identity; a liminal phase (where individuals are neither one thing nor another); and then post-transition identity (Beech 2011). Focussing on the liminal phase, current research suggests that external influences create an individual’s sense of liminality, implying a lack of control of their status as ‘liminars’ (Ybema et al, 2011). Literature often focusses on how to ‘resolve’ this imposed liminal status and thus move to post-transition identities (Ybema et al 2011). There is a lack of literature however which suggests that actors may actively choose to be liminal. In this literature club session Dr Gordon will present cases from a longitudinal audio-diary study of doctors as they transition from trainee to ‘trained’ status that suggest a shift away from linear conceptualisations of liminality to more multifaceted understandings reflective of the complexities of modern working practices.
Period2 Oct 2019