Skip to main content

degradation ceremony

degradation ceremony Introduced by Harold Garfinkel in his article on ‘Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies’ (American Journal of Sociology, 1956)
, the term degradation ceremony (or ‘status degradation ceremony’) refers to communicative work directed towards transforming an individual's total identity into an identity lower in the relevant group's scheme of social types. Garfinkel argued that the structural conditions of moral indignation and shame—and hence the conditions of status degradation—are universal to all societies. Law courts are one example where degradation ceremonies are carried out publicly by professional degraders (lawyers and judges) as an occupational routine. Public denunciations undertaken in other social settings may be just as effective. The term highlights the importance of societal reaction in the defining of deviance in everyday life. See also LABELLING; STATUS; STIGMA; SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"degradation ceremony." A Dictionary of Sociology. . 5 Feb. 2019 <>.

"degradation ceremony." A Dictionary of Sociology. . (February 5, 2019).

"degradation ceremony." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved February 05, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.