[su_spoiler title="Article Abstract" style="fancy"]After over a century of neglect, this paper recommends that sociologists reconsider investigating the mysticism dimension of Troeltsch’s church-sect-mysticism framework, established over a hundred years ago in 1912 with the publication of Die Soziallehren (Garrett, 1975). The paper underlines the significance of mystical experience, gives reasons for the sociological neglect, offers guidance on operationalizing mystical experience, and provides a blueprint for research and analysis moving forward. While the paper makes a strong case for sociological investigation into this arguably important aspect of human spirituality, the paper also issues a warning against the development of mystocentrism.[/su_spoiler][su_spoiler title="Quotes from the Article" style="fancy"]

Open hostility towards a specific phenomenon has a chilling effect that prevents scholarly exploration....Both William James and Abraham Maslow had to spend extra time defending their interest in mystical experience against their skeptical and sometimes hostile colleagues. James noted that he himself “…underwent professional censure and ridicule for fervently espousing the authenticity of the spiritual orientation to mind and body, health and happiness” (Hoffman, 2010, p. 408).

It is interesting to note that sociologists have not always demonstrated wholesale neglect of religious/mystical experience. As far as 1940, Furfey (1940) argued for a supernatural sociology, i.e. a sociology that takes mysticism seriously. Sturzo (1942, p. 205) echoed this sentiment saying that “If the supernatural is a historical and social fact, it must fall within the field of sociological investigation.” Still, despite the early interest, initial calls to take religion experience seriously were not met with much interest. Bourque and Back (1971) accuse sociologists of lack of curiosity and interest, and that is certainly part of it. Some (though by no means all) academics are secular liberals and they have a secular world view. Within this secular world view there is no space for non-secular phenomenon. Why would somebody who does not believe in God be interested in the mystic’s claim to be in communication with God? The answer is, they would not be. Still, since many academics do indeed have a spiritual belief system of some sort, (Ecklund & Long, 2011), simple lack of interest cannot be the whole explanation. Other factors must be at play.

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This article has either been accepted for publication (forthcoming) or has been published. Cite the article as published (see below).
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Word Count: 0
Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease: 100
Flesch Kincaid Grade Level: 0
Average Words Per Sentence 1
Percentage Words with Three Syllables 0


Cite as:

(Forthcoming) The Sociology of Mysticism, ISA eSymposium for Sociology.

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