The Sociology of Halloween 2019

Halloween’s not a huge deal in the United Kingdom, but it is still an annual festival/ ritual that everyone recognizes, and I imagine most people can relate to it having gone trick or treating as kid?

At the very least you’ll likely be exposed to it via Strictly’s Halloween Special.

Some stats on Halloween

  • One third of Brits believe in ghosts, spirits or other paranormal activity
  • Britain is divided on Halloween – over half (56%) of the public say they won’t be celebrating it!
  • Britain is also divided over trick or treat – 40% think it’s harmless fun, but 38% would feel unsafe opening the doors to strangers.
  • Only 11% of Brits say they’ll be dressing up to go to a party.
  • Despite the low numbers of people who celebrate it, expenditure on Halloween has been increasing in recent years, and is now around the £400 million mark!

Sociological Perspectives Applied to Halloween

Functionalist Durkheim argued that national rituals are worth analyzing as they can reveal something about the collective conscience of a society – I think this is true to an extent: it’s now more commercialized than ever and the relatively high levels of fear of trick and treat are a reminder that we live in a ‘risk society’ .

However, more than anything the poll results show how divided we are as a nation, and how privatized – we’re split over Halloween, just like we are over Brexit, and it seems it’s mostly a private affair, rather than a public celebration, as evidenced in the fact that trick or treating is in decline.

Going back to Strictly, maybe that’s it for most of us – we experience Halloween like how we experience so many other things in life – through celebrities having a jolly old time playing dress up, while we cower indoors with the lights off to ward off the trick or treat threat?!

Maybe Halloween does offer us a commentary on social life today after all, just not the kind you’re likely to see revealed in an opinion poll.

Sources

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