Sociology Student Presents Research

Julie Szamocki (Mentor: Dr. Simon) presented her research at The Society for the Study for Symbolic Interactionism in Philadelphia in August. Her research is titled ” Wicca as Both Individual and Communal: How New Religious Movements are Personalized.” The abstract is below:

With only eight thousand Wiccans identified by the U.S. Census in 1990 and growing to over three hundred thousand identified in 2008, the population of Wiccans in then United States increases rapidly each year (U.S. Census). Although it is one of the most popular New Religious Movements in the U.S., studies focusing on the Wiccan religion are limited. With the development of the Internet, the Wiccan religion has increased its potential to be more personalized than other, larger religions. The intent for this study was to analyze how individual characteristics such as stake in conformity, education, political affiliation, familial satisfaction, and use of the Internet can shape whether and individual’s version of Wicca is solitary or communal in nature. Based on semi-structured interviews with individuals who identify as Wiccan, I reconciled the collective organization of new religious movement and the personalization of the Wiccan religion. To do so, I used the Dark and Bainbridge’s Theory of Affiliation, which examines multiple variables of the individual to determine the likelihood of joining an alternate religion. Both observations of religious practices and individual narratives were recorded and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Using the qualitative analytic software Dedoose, I coded for emergent themes within the qualitative measures of the study.