Becoming a Virtual Pagan: “Conversion” or Identity Construction?
Keywords:Paganism, Solitary, Internet, Conversion, Social Networks, Identity Construction,
AbstractWell before the advent of the Internet, Paganism had been experiencing increasing fragmentation due to the growing numbers of solitaries. The Internet did more than simply bring new people into the movement; it also dramatically altered the overall social organization of Paganism. The present article brings together questionnaire data that paint a quantitative picture of these changes. Through the use of a quasi-longitudinal technique, data collected in 2009/2010 is projected backwards in time to show how points of entry for new participants gradually changed across the course of five decades. Information from other questionnaire items is then used to measure how Paganism changed from a movement based on face-to-face interactions to a community of physically-separated individuals interacting within a virtual world. Finally, we consider whether this kind of involvement should be understood as comparable to ‘conversion’ in the traditional sense, or whether this sort of mediated and mediatized interaction is better described as a form of identity construction.
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