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Secrecy As Social Capital

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Chapter Summary

The concept of secrecy has been quite influential both in sociology and in the academic study of religion. The concepts of field and of capital are very helpful if one want to understand the mechanisms of secrecy and concealment that characterize esoteric discourse. Edgar Lawrence Doctorow demonstrates in Ragtime what is at stake here: referring to the Egyptian secret society, to the Rosicrucians, and to the Hermetic tradition, the novel makes clear that belonging to a society whose members enjoy access to superior, exclusive, and elitist knowledge and tradition, means an increase of social, cultural, and symbolic capital. The Rosicrucian movement not only established new models of learned societies (gelehrte Soziabilitt), but also a new type of communication/ speech, a Redeform that provided a medium for cultural discussion and literary exchange.

Keywords: Edgar Lawrence Doctorow; Egyptian secret society; Hermetic tradition; Rosicrucian movement



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