Consumption and the authentic pagan

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Coco, Angela
Woodward, Ian
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2003
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University of New Engalnd
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The commodification of the religious impulse finds its most overt expression in the New Age movement and its sub-culture neo-paganism. These movements thrive through the production and consumption of images, symbols and artifacts that shape contemporary spiritual sensibilities. Because of this, they are an apposite case to study the way consumption meanings are generated and negotiated in a strongly postmodern consumption context. This paper examines discourses in the Brisbane pagan community, in Queensland, Australia. Brisbane pagans network through electronic mail discussion lists and chat forums as well as through local and national offline gatherings. In this paper we explore the community building and boundary defining communications employed in these discourses. In particular, we examine interactions that reveal the mobilisation of pagans’ concern with consumer capitalism, consumer lifestyles and media representations of the ‘craft’. A common theme that emerges in these deliberations is the notion that certain selfidentified pagans may not be the ‘real thing’. Our analysis reveals a series of tensions in pagan’s representations of and engagement with consumer culture that has cultivated an ‘authentic pagan’ sentiment. This sentiment is symbolically encapsulated in the widely used expression ‘fluffy bunny’ that intimates, or signals the presence of, inauthentic pagan practice.

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New Times, New Worlds, New Ideas: Sociology Today and Tomorrow
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© The Author(s) 2003. The attached file is reproduced here with permission of the copyright owner(s) for your personal use only. No further distribution permitted. For information about this conference please refer to TASA website or contact the author(s).
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