SEARCHING FOR SPIRITS: ASSESSING THE CREATION AND MAINTENANCE OF BELIEFS WITHIN A SPIRITUALIST NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT
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This study is an ethnographic account of belief creation and maintenance within a spiritualist new religious movement (specifically, the Spiritual Science Fellowship or SSF). The emphasis is placed on personal experiences over a one-year research period, historical research of spiritualist new religious movements, and review of contemporary conversion theories within sociology. The purpose of this study is to examine social factors in the movement, which may account for the creation and maintenance of specific beliefs held by its members. I utilize personal experiences obtained through participant observation to elucidate these factors. I also compare and contrast other contemporary conversion theories including deprivation and brainwashing against my experiences with this particular spiritualist group.