The concept of latent function extends the observer's attention beyond the question of whether or not the behavior attains its avowed purpose.  Temporarily ignoring these explicit purposes, it directs attention toward another range of consequences: those bearing, for example, upon the individual personalities of Hopi involved in the ceremony and upon the persistence and continuity of the larger group (1968, p. 118).

But with the concept of latent function, we continue our inquiry, examining the consequences of the ceremony not for the rain gods or for meteorological phenomena, but for the groups which conduct the ceremony.  And here it may be found, as many observers indicate, that the ceremonial does indeed have functions--but functions which are non-purposed or latent.  Ceremonials may fulfill the latent function of reinforcing the group identity by providing a periodic occasion on which the scattered members of a group assemble to engage in a common activity.  As Durkheim among others long since indicated, such ceremonials are a means by which collective expression is afforded the sentiments which, in a further analysis, are found to be a basic source of group unity. Through the systematic application of the concept of latent function, therefore, apparently irrational behavior may at times be found to be positively functional for the group" (1968, pp. 118-119).