Hazing is a ritual initiation of a person into a particular social group. This type of initiation often plays the role of rite of passage or is a symbol of reaching maturity. The process of such initiation often supposes the person passing through the acts of harassment, bullying, and humiliation, which includes both physical violence and psychological humiliation. After the initiation, the person usually becomes a full member of the community. This process is a very common practice in certain social groups, such as students, military, etc. and can pose a danger to the persons initiated, especially when done without the knowledge of the superiors or guardians.
Various forms of hazing have existed in every culture since ancient times. The oldest records are of ancient Crete, where the boys after puberty had to appear nude in a “festival expose.” In Sparta, young people had to plunder helots at the age of 18 years to go through the ritual at the altar of Artemis. The rite consisted of attempting to steal the cheese, while the second group whipped mercilessly “thieves,” to the delight of the audience. Initiation ceremonies among the students exist since the establishment of schools – in the Middle Ages, this phenomenon was called Beanie. In order to join the Order of the Knights Templar was going through a specific type of initiation.
One of the most famous traditions is the annual Ditch day in the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), as an example of reversed hazing: seniors leave the campus for twenty-four hours, and underclassmen benefit from this period (but are often prepared for months) to “trap” their rooms by all conceivable means (there even were cases of the rooms transformation into pools or their doors were bricked so they became totally undetectable). The seniors would have to thwart these pitfalls.
Hazing, as a widespread and ritualized social practice has resulted in a multitude of tests, sometimes very divergent. Thus, some psychologists speak of trauma, infantile regression, and collective release. Others, like Michael Houseman, highlighted the social role of hazing, which establishes new hierarchies within the school and outside. Some see in hazing a way for the group to protect and / or build itself. Others see it as a rite of initiation, after which the newcomer acquires the status of a full member of the student community. Thus, according to the speaker, hazing can be a ritual, certainly a little odd, but nevertheless essential to avoid anomie and crumbling of society.
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