Pagan religiousness as 'networked individualism'
Coco, A 2012, 'Pagan religiousness as 'networked individualism', in M Fowler, JD Martin & JL Hochheimer (eds), Spirituality: theory, praxis and pedagogy, Inter-Disciplinary Press, pp. 125-136. ISBN: 9781848880917
In the age of the internet, the types of place and group bounded fixtures that traditionally supported religious systems are changing. Questions are raised as to how Pagans, whose spirituality is formed from personal experience, may be able develop and/or access shared values and a sense of belonging. ‘Networked individualism’ refers to the notion that information and communication technologies (ICTs) facilitate a new form of relationship between the individual and community in which a ‘communications hybrid’ between online and offline places is enacted. Ties to community have shifted from linking people in a particular geographic locale to linking people in any places thus enabling individuals to construct personal communities that supply needs for information, identity, a sense of belonging and emotional support. Described as metaphysical seekers in the religious marketplace, Pagans express their spirituality in group or in solitary (individual) practices both of which are understood as subject positions available for the spiritual journey. Further, Pagans access a wide variety of structured and semi-structured Pagan events ranging from social gatherings to public rituals, study groups, covens with well-defined procedures and roles, and festivals. These events, together with Pagan online discussion lists and social networking sites, provide opportunities to participate in ‘communities of practice’ that facilitate an overall sense of Pagan identity and belonging. Patterns of networked sociability evident in 21st century society generally support the highly individualised and syncretistic nature of Pagan spirituality. This paper traces and illustrates the dimensions of Pagan networking and suggests that Pagan religiousness/spirituality could be characterised as networked individualism.