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“Out of the Broom Closet”: The Social Ecology of American Wicca

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Abstract:

The fastest growing form of religious identification, spirituality, or “new” religious movement in American society over the last decade is Wicca and related forms of “Neo-Paganism.” However, with no national organization and minimal local organization, little is known about its distribution across a privatized religious landscape nor about the features of state social and cultural environments that are receptive or contrary to its spread. This study uses Internet data to create estimates of the comparative strength of Wiccan-Pagan identification across the 50 states and conducts multivariate analyses of the ability of variables suggested in prior research to explain its distribution. Not only are the findings consistent with expectations, but differences in correlates of Wicca using the Internet data in contrast to existing measures of “New Age” spirituality highlight the empirical importance of maintaining distinctions between the two.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2008.00439.x

Affiliations: 1: Gary F. Jensen is a Professor of Sociology in the Departments of Sociology and Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University, TN 37212., Email: gary.jensen@vanderbilt.edu 2: Ashley Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Lynchburg College,Lakeside Drive, VA 24501., Email: ashley.b.thompson@vanderbilt.edu

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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