Item Details

Structures of Stability: A Blackian Analysis of a Wiccan Coven’s Longevity

Issue: Vol 22 No. 1 (2020)

Journal: Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/pome.39071


Drawing upon ethnographic work with a Wiccan coven, I propose an extension of Donald Black’s theoretical work to the study of conflict within small religious groups. The incidence and resolution of conflict is taken as a key predictor of longevity for small religious groups due to their heavy reliance on a committed membership. Through the micro-structural lens provided by Blackian theory, I advance a partial explanation for the marked longevity of the coven studied, which has functioned continuously for nearly twenty years. Black explains conflicts occurring due to changes in social structure, with more sudden or dramatic changes engendering greater conflict; the likely resolution to conflicts are in terms predicted by the theory on the basis of the local structural pattern of the parties to the conflict, including third parties. Both the oral history of the group and observations of the researcher over a six-month period of field study are considered in the application of Blackian theory, though the nature of an ethnographic case necessitates further testing of Black’s theoretical work, which is tentatively discussed.

Author: Jeff Patterson

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