In anthropology, liminality
(from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.
The concept of liminality was first developed in the early 20th century by anthropologist Arnold van Gennep and later taken up by Victor Turner. More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals. During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established. The term has also passed into popular usage, where it is applied much more broadly, undermining its significance to some extent.
. . .
Liminality has both spatial and temporal dimensions, and can be applied to a variety of subjects: individuals, larger groups (cohorts or villages), whole societies, and possibly even entire civilizations. The following chart summarizes the different dimensions and subjects of liminal experiences, and also provides the main characteristics and key examples of each category.
Another significant variable is “scale,” or the “degree” to which an individual or group experiences liminality. In other words, “there are degrees of liminality, and…the degree depends on the extent to which the liminal experience can be weighed against persisting structures.". When the spatial and temporal are both affected, the intensity of the liminal experience increases and so-called “pure liminality” is approached
. . .