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Contingencies And Emergence

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Chapter Summary

A central difference between 'ritual failure' and 'mistake' is that failure refers to the efficacy of a ritual whereas a mistake refers to the procedural performance and as such is closely related to competence and agency. However, both notions are contingent: rituals are actions and are, as any other human action, never free of contingencies. While the contingencies or 'risks' lying in a ritual's performance is concentrated on Mistakes, Procedural Errors and Incorrect Performances", the contributions to this chapter mainly focuses on the uncertainty of the outcome of a ritual, that is, a ritual's efficacy. However, 'efficacy denotes a wide range of phenomena: the effects of a ritual postulated on a doctrinal level, its social consequences, the fulfilment of individual expectations, empirically detectable effects, unexpected outcomes, and so on. The case study presented in this chapter clearly shows that a ritual's efficacy cannot be reduced to one of these aspects.

Keywords: ritual efficacy; social consequences



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