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2 The Dubious History of the Witch-Hunts

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Chapter Summary

The witch-hunt has been seen as one of the strangest phenomena of the European past. The stereotypical witch is a woman who serves the devil and flies to the witches' sabbath. Aside from being females, the most important characteristic of witches is said to have been poverty. Poverty has also been one of the most important reasons given as an explanation for the persecutions. The view that the witch persecutions can be explained by the poverty of the accused became generally established after the Second World War, although there have been other explanatory models. Modern witch-hunts in different countries have been explained using the scapegoat theory. One of the best-known models is Clyde Kluckhohn's research into the accusations of witchcraft among the Navajo in 1930s North America. According to Kluckhohn, social problems caused stress and disputes, which brought about the accusations.

Keywords: Clyde Kluckhohn's research; poverty; scapegoat theory; social problems; witch-hunt



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