Planning research frequently deals with issues of transition. Transition is defined here broadly as the change of
social and spatial state from the one position into another. In planning theory and urban studies, there are many
attempts to conceptualise such processes of change (material theories, evolutionary approaches, pragmatic
perspectives, and so on). This paper traces some classic sources of functional anthropology and cultural
sociology, focusing particularly on the meaning of the ‘rite of passage’. This line of reasoning contemplates
transition as a pattern of cultural change of social order, and deals both with the structural and the process
oriented aspects of transition. The paper builds upon the pivotal work of the French anthropologist Arnold van
Gennep and the further explorations of Victor Turner as well as present-day interpretations.