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Title: Crafting coincidence : the rhetoric of improbable events
Author: Stockbridge, Germaine Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 504X
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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This study develops a sociological approach to the study of coincidence. It uses real-life, textual accounts of coincidences sourced from the Cambridge Coincidence Collection to examine the ways in which events are constructed as coincidences and as non-coincidences in discourse. This is a direct departure from previous research in the field of coincidence studies, which has predominantly focused on ontological questions of coincidence. The aim of this study was to identify rhetorical devices people use in coincidence accounts. It draws on a broadly discourse analytical approach, examining the ways in which cognition, reality and identity are constructed in accounts of coincidence. An initial single case study identified possible rhetorical patterns, which were then identified, dismissed or fine-tuned in light of the data set. Four rhetorical devices have been identified in the analysis: 'mirror formulations', which narratively bind together the two story-segments that constitute coincidence; the 'discovery/departure' device, which manages stake and intentionality of the narrators; the 'but ... still' device, which is a type of show concession through which narrators display an orientation to probabilistic reasoning; and coincidence disconfirmation, which discursively turns private matters public. The main finding of this thesis is that all rhetorical devices of coincidence construction identified in the CCC orient to an idealist notion of natural sciences, thus simultaneously adhering to – and perpetuating – its ideological influence. Thus, whilst often classed as ‘paranormal’ experiences, peoples’ coincidence accounts work hard at justifying their own existence in terms of mainstream scientific standards. This thesis provides an original contribution to knowledge by unpicking the consequential question of how a set of events is discursively constructed as a coincidence or the responsibility of agentic action.
Supervisor: Wooffitt, Robin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available