Hyper-ideal Sociality

Rushing Activities as Extreme Rituals of Learning Professional Conduct


  • My Madsen




higher education, extreme sociality, learning, rushing, hyper rituals, socio-professional


Within the literature on ‘rushing rituals’ at institutions of higher education, there is a dominant focus on the creation of cohesion or communitas (Turner 1969) between students. This focus causes these rituals to be treated analytically as disjointed from the broader context of the institutional setting. Rushing is often treated as 1) something that figures purely on the level of students and 2) something extraordinary that is opposed to or the opposite of the ordinary life at institutions. Building on extensive fieldwork among students at the Danish Technical University, this article challenges the treatment of rushing as disjointed from the institutional setting. Through empirical examples, the article shows that students’ conduct in rushing is strongly informed by the professional ideals at educational institutions and it is argued that rushing activities can be understood as extreme enactments of these institutional ideals. Rushing activities are conceptualized as rituals of hyper-ideal sociality, that is, social scenarios where institutional ideals become grotesquely clear enactments that legitimize and teach students the social order of institutional life. Through a close analysis of rushing activities at the Danish Technical University the article exemplifies how activities such as partying, fancy dressing, games and competitions come to reflect the professional ideal of the institution and serve as ways to teach and rehearse specific preferable behaviour.

Total group of 300 tutors for managing 6 months of rushing. Different costumes distinguish different interdisciplinary taskforces (2014, with permission from Polyteknisk Forening).