Pursuing a new theoretical link between sociology of culture and ‘categorization’ research, the article articulates the process whereby new categories emerge through bifurcation of pre-existing categories. The contribution is in conceptualizing and documenting the underlying interaction of endogenous and exogeneous factors. The assumption is that bifurcation is likely to occur where and when individual practices of contrast maximization interact with the internal tendency toward dichotomization. This form of interaction is instrumental in identifying and explaining ‘thresholds’ in cultural change. The framework is illustrated with the archetype of ‘modern ballet’ – The Rite of Spring, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, staged in 1913. By reversing the codes of ‘classical’ ballet, centered on elegance, lightness and flow, the Rite redefined movement, codifying a language of tension, interruption and constraint. It marked the key moment when a critical part of the audience interpreted ‘bad’ ballet as ‘new’ ballet. The analysis draws parallels with bifurcation processes in physics and system dynamics. Link to the article
SGOUREV, S. (2021). Categorical Bifurcation: The Rite of Spring at the Threshold of Modernism. Cultural Sociology, 15(2), pp. 292-310.