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United In Diversity, Divided From Within: The Dynamics Of Legitimation In Contemporary Witchcraft

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores how contemporary Witchcraft is legitimated vis-a-vis the wider society and culture, where conventional conceptions of Witchcraft are often either negatively laden or presented as entertaining superstition"" by the popular media. The main argument of the chapter is that, first of all, contrary to some views of contemporary Witchcraft as a movement devoid of tradition, there is a distinct tradition of uniting against any attempt by the social institutions and movements in the surrounding society to undermine the legitimacy of Witchcraft. Secondly, and more importantly, legitimation vis-à-vis the wider society necessarily involves some kind of boundary maintenance within the movement, thus making outward legitimation an important component of the identity construction of contemporary Witchcraft. Contemporary Witchcraft is an interesting example of how alternative religion or spirituality is legitimated in the wider social framework, and how that legitimation process "acts back" on the participants.

Keywords: contemporary Witchcraft; legitimation; spirituality



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