Within the progressive movement, the term "worldview" is becoming increasingly recognized and valued, thanks to Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant and his focus on frames and perspectives. Lakoff identifies a weakness in fact-based movements: they fail to transform entrenched worldviews. Worldviews, Lakoff insists, are rooted in symbols and metaphors and prove intractable if approached by mere facts and figures.
This is where Schirch comes in. In Ritual and Symbol, Schirch advances Lakoff's work by giving peacebuilders tools to understand and transform entrenched and intractable worldviews, identities and relationships--tools invaluable for a broad spectrum of peacebuilders, e.g. activists, artists, mediators, ADR lawyers, diplomats, etc.
While this book is particularly helpful for arts-based peacebuilders, Ritual and Symbol is an essential prerequisite read for anyone poised to effect social change.
As the peacebuilding field grows and professionalizes, there is an increasing body of literature on the subject. There is a great deal of research and writing exploring the material aspect of conflict, from delineating issue-based approaches to works aimed at developing concrete negotiation techniques. There is also a growing body of literature exploring the relational aspects of peacebuilding, focusing on processes of improving patterns of relating. Schirch's book, Ritual and Symbol in Peacebuilding, is one of the few resources for peacebuilders aimed at specificially exploring the symbolic aspects of conflict and peacebuilding.
As such, it is an important addition to any peacebuilder's library. Schirch clearly details what she means by ritual and gives concrete examples of how ritual is used in everyday life- and more specifically, in attempts to transform and heal conflict.
This book serves as a critical resource for those interested in consciously incorporating the symbolic into their concepts of what constitutes peacebuilding. As Schirch develops through specific examples, symbolic approaches to peacebuilding form a necessary component in transforming identities warped and distorted by conflict. I recommend this book highly!
Schirch highlights this oft missed element of peacebuilding. I found the book to be an excellent analysis and exploration of how we need to nurture the space for creative transformation. Very well written! A must read for anyone in the helping professions and relevant for everyone else as well.