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Towards a New Model of Conversion Careers: the Impact of Personality and Contingency Factors

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The central question of this article — why people may change their religious affiliation or become disaffiliated — is relevant from both an academic and a practical point of view. The article makes first an inventory of existing literature on religious conversion. Next I sketch the contours of the new conversion careers approach I am currently working on. I make some comparisons with a region that is not usually mentioned in the literature on conversion: Latin America. These comparisons are based on my earlier fieldwork on Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism, and Mormonism in Costa Rica and Guatemala (H. Gooren, Rich among the Poor: Church, Firm, and Household among Small-scale Entrepreneurs in Guatemala City, Amsterdam: Thela Thesis 1999).


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