Based on ethnographic research, this book examines the paranormal investigation subculture in the US. Presenting interviews with investigators as well as extensive field observations, it explores their reasons for getting involved, their use of different investigative methods, the interpretive processes by which they individually and collectively 'sense' spirits, the ways in which these processes are influenced by small group power dynamics, and what paranormal investigation ultimately means to those who participate. While focusing on the practices by which investigators 'sense' spirits in small groups, the author also situates paranormal investigation within a broader cultural context and attends to how investigators attempt to legitimize their practice despite being marginalized by both science and religion. A fascinating study of ghosts as an inherently social phenomenon, Sensing Spirits will appeal to sociologists with interests in ethnography, interactionism, cultural studies and subcultures.
Marc Eaton is Associate Professor of Sociology at Ripon College, USA and the co-editor of The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History.
1. Getting into the Spirit
2. Learning the "Right" Ways to Sense Spirits
3. Discerning Evidence of Spirits
4. Empersoning Spirits
5. Emplotting Spirits
6. Making Sense of Sensing Spirits
The Dead as Social Objects and Actors