An Interdisciplinary Account of Martyrdom as a Religious Practice
The role of religious practices in cultural evolution and the interrelations of religious and other cultural practices are the topics of this paper. In that regard, religious and non-religious practices interact in a variety of ways and may be important or necessary for the maintenance of each. The preservation of particular practices by the deliberate manipulation of these interrelations is commonplace. Presumably, the motivation of authorities with the power to manipulate practices is centered on the value of outcomes produced. That value, explicitly or implicitly, is group survival or cultural survival. This paper provides a descriptive analysis of the socio-economic and historical conditions which generate religious practices associated with martyrdom. This analysis draws upon interdisciplinary contact between behavior analysis and social sciences such as sociology and anthropology by utilizing concepts of metacontingency and macrocontingency. We address the significance of this interaction to the role of religious practices such as martyrdom in group survival or cultural survival and conclude with a discussion of the challenges facing behavior analysts as cultural engineers.
Martyrdom, metacontingency, macrocontigency
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