Why do we keep on meeting like this? The board as ritual in health and social care

Edward Peck, Perri Six, P Gulliver, D Towell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Despite their prevalence and longevity in many forms of social organization, most research on formal meetings suggests that they do not fulfil the instrumental purposes (e.g. setting strategy) that their constitutions propose. A three-year study of the Joint Commissioning Board for mental health in Somerset, UK, revealed that it was no exception. However, many of the participants on the Board suggested that it fulfilled important purposes that drew attention to its role as ritual. This paper examines the role of the Board in the light of the literature on ritual--in particular the work of the neo-Durkheimian tradition flowing from the work of Douglas--and locates the importance of the meeting in the formation of social solidarity. This theoretical perspective illuminates issues around classification and language which explain the disempowerment felt by some members of the Board. Finally, this paper identifies the challenges in engaging a broader range of stakeholders (including users and carers) in these rituals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Services Management Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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