In Moberg’s chapter on Decolonization and Anti-Structure, he discusses the backlash British Structural Functionalism began to receive due to its lack of explanation about conflict and change. Moberg goes on to explain that some anthropologists wanted to address conflict while still maintaining the functionalist perspective; one of these anthropologists was Max Gluckman. Gluckman analyzed conflict as not in opposition to functionalism, rather as a contributing a functional purpose to the system.
While Gluckman was conducting field work he observed a pattern of behavior practiced by many stratified African societies, ritualized rebellion. He described these rituals as a brief reversal of social order and the roles people fulfill. Gluckman proposes that these events grant a psychological release for those that do not hold an authoritative role. It is an opportunity to discharge any frustrations, while also providing a warning to the rulers of what could happen if the people so choose. These momentary role reversals become a way to balance and preserve the system (Moberg 2013, pg. 206-7).
Ritual rebellion reminds me of a recently released movie, The Purge, where all crime is temporarily legalized for 24 hours, and all emergency services are closed. It is assumed that if allowing citizens to engage in any behavior they desire for 24 hours, the system will be able to maintain order the other 364 days of the year. While I do not believe, even for a moment, that the logic assumed by this movie is any way feasible or moral, I do see an overlap between what Gluckman observed, and the plot to this move. Citizens are provided an opportunity to act on deep seeded revenge or festering anger; these 24 hours offers a form of liberation. It is a mechanism created by the system, for the system, to dissolve any chance of revolution