Religious conversion as a commitment signal and strategy



Year of publication 2012
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The paper focuses on the possible utilization of ethnographic research in the lab as well as the use of lab methods in the field. This possible dynamic will be illustrated via ongoing field research on religious conversion as a collective practice of "witnessing" among Baptists in the Czech Republic. Conversion is not a one time, historical process only, but has continuing implications for group life. The gradual learning and adopting of an appropriate conversion story and its subsequent display in a front of other members in a ritual context is of strategic importance. The formation of an individual conversion autobiography via the utilization of particular shared models and schemas is a requirement for successful integration and functioning in the group. A neophyte acquires this by attending lectures about God word, prayer or witnessing meetings and by listening to testimonies of others. The display of a conversion story in a ritual context before baptism, demonstrates a successful adoption of the group ideology and norms, as well as commitment to the group. What are the individual and collective consequences of "witnessing practices"? What can we learn from existing experimental studies and what experimental studies might research this practice in more detail?
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