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Myth System and Operational Code, 3 Yale Studies in World Public Order 230 (1977)


From the standpoint of the disengaged observer, the most overwhelming feature of social systems Is the integrality and the seamless symbiosis of controller and controlled. But for certain problems, Inquiry about legal control must distinguish the flow of behavior which comprises group life from those specialized institutions which purport to-control, In diverse ways, what that flow of behavior ought to be. The specialized institutlons--and they are not limited to the apparatus of the state--convey, both for themselves and for their targets, a very complete picture of how the group in question ought to be acting: a picture of the group as its members would like to imagine it and to some extent do imagine it. Membership in the group involves for most acculturation, a profound shaping of the personality, in processes which impart that preferred picture and make it an integral part of the identity and cognitive structure of the individual. That picture includes the official code of the group and much of its distinctive ritual.

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