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9.5 Strategies to Protect Secret

There is no single panacea to prevent leaks and to protect secrets in religion and company. In the history of religion, however, we can recognize three strategies which religious specialists have practiced to protect their secrets and maintain their status, that is to say, involution strategy, hierarchy strategy, and invention strategy. These strategies may be suggestive for analyzing company.

9.5.1 Involution Strategy

The involution strategy is the strategy that religious organizations complicate the procedure and details of the rituals so as to make it difficult for ordinary believers to imitate them. The name of the strategy is inspired by the “involution” concept of Geertz (1963).

In the seminal work on the agricultural system of Indonesia, Geertz (1963) presented the concept of “involution,” which was borrowed from anthropologist Goldenweiser (1936). Geertz describes the process as “those cultural patterns which, after having reached what would seem to be a definitive form, nonetheless fail either to stabilize or transform themselves into a new pattern but rather continue to develop by becoming internally more complicated” (Geertz 1963: 80–81). To put it simply, “involution” means the phenomenon that details of various things become more complicated inwardly like miniatures. As the involution goes on to the more complicated stage, things step closer to the state of black box. I will use the term “involution” here to refer to the phenomenon that those who get involved in the management of religion or company attempt to complicate the contents of secret in order to protect their secrets and to hold prominent positions in their social settings.

In the world history of religion, from classical and traditional religions such as Brahmanism in India and Christianity to new religions, many religions have adopted the strategy, whether intentionally or not. However, the involution strategy has two problems. One is the succession problem and the other is the concentration problem. If the contents of secrets in religions are excessively complicated, it is difficult for religious specialists to hand on secrets to the next generation. This is the former problem. The latter is that when the secret is concealed to an obsessive degree, authority can become too concentrated in the religious leader, which runs the risk of ordinary believers losing their trust and faith. The solution of these problems links to the hierarchy strategy.

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