The Shadow of Dionysus

A Contribution to the Sociology of the Orgy

By Michel Maffesoli
Translated by Cindy Linse & Mary Kristina Palmquist

Subjects: Social Theory
Paperback : 9780791412404, 196 pages, December 1992
Hardcover : 9780791412398, 196 pages, January 1993

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Table of contents


Preface to Second French Edition

Preface to English Edition

Translator's Notes
Cindy Linse

Michel Valentin


1. Unproductive Life

2. The Social Divine

3. The Cosmic Union

4. The Orgiastic as a Factor in Sociality

5. Bacchus the Federator

6. The Banal Confusion




Maffesoli presents a powerful argument for understanding everyday life by examining the passional logic that animates the social body. He asserts that the "circulation of sexuality," as much as the circulation of goods and services or language, is a structural component of sociality. By examining the dionysian adventure (passion, bonds of shared emotion, communal feeling), he redefines the problems of sociality and the strong hedonistic ethics present in contemporary daily life.

Michel Maffesoli is Professor of Sociology at Rene Descartes University, the Sorbonne. He is Secretary General of the Center for Research on the Imaginary, and Adjunct-Director of the Study Center on the Current and the Everyday (Paris V), and has published works on violence, bureaucracy, and daily life.


"The topic is absolutely central: the body and sexuality throughout history. It is a major contribution to the study and history of sexuality. It has a solid historical-comparative sweep, and is written with a conviction and a power that is compelling. " — Norman K. Denzin, University of Illinois

"This book takes up a theme important to the postmodern crisis — what is the sacred, and what does it do? It locates the sacred in direct line with everyday life and the orderliness of society. " — John O'Neill, York University, Toronto