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Rituals of apology in the global arena.

Kampf, Zohar
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Security Dialogue 43(1) 43–60.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been growing academic interest in the speech act of apology. Both
the nature of apologetic communicative processes and the potential of apologies to promote reconciliation
remain, however, under debate. The aim of this article is to map common types of rituals found in what is
termed ‘the age of apology’, to identify the processual and structural characteristics of these rituals, and to
understand their contribution to restoring relations in the global arena. The analysis yields three types of
rituals of apology: purification – that is, asymmetrical rituals in which the offender issues an apology in order
to purify his or her dismal past but does not necessarily need the approval of an offended party; humiliation
– that is, asymmetrical rituals in which the offended party forces the offender to participate in a degradation
ritual as a condition for closure; and settlement – that is, symmetrical rituals in which both sides strive to
restore relations. The theoretical and practical implications of these rituals are discussed. (authors’ abstract)


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