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Definition: Ritualism is a concept discussed by Robert K. Merton in his Theory of Deviance, which he defines as a form of quasi-deviance in which people obey norms outwardly by “going through the motions,” but they lack inner commitment to their roles and the underlying values of the social system. Because the lack of commitment is usually detectable to other people, widespread ritualism can undermine morale and commitment of others to the system and therefore the social cohesion of the system as a whole.

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