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Ritual Dynamics And Ritual Failure

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Chapter Summary

The risks are situated on diverse levels of the ritual. The degree and the variety of risk in a ritual performance determine the efforts to prevent mistakes and failure. Failure is an integral part of order. A 'ritual mistake' thus connects a specific performance to past and future enactments of the same ritual. At the same time, it refers to its contemporary socio-cultural context where the deviation initiates a discourse about rules. The analysis of ritual failure therefore contextualises the ritual. 'Failure' or 'mistake' does not exist independently from the individual or group who or which interprets an action as such. Deviations are always to be found, but only their negative evaluation makes them 'mistakes'. Criticism or discussions of the 'quality' of a ritual influences future performances. Corrections of a ritual's script or its rules indicate that a former practice is not considered appropriate.

Keywords: criticism; deviation; ritual failure; socio-cultural context



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