A New Model of Religious Conversion

Beyond Network Theory and Social Constructivism


Author: Ines W. Jindra
Based on the analysis of 52 conversion narratives to various religious groups, A New Model of Religious Conversion utilizes case studies for comparison of converts' backgrounds, network influence, and conversion narratives. The author convincingly illustrates a "fit" between the converts' background and the religion they convert to, such as between disorganized family backgrounds and highly structured religions. Conversely, those from highly structured backgrounds often convert to more "open" groups. The book also makes it clear that not all conversions are influenced by networks or align themselves with a social constructivist view of a conversion as an "account." Taking converts' trajectories seriously, the author makes a strong case for the application of biographical sociology to the study of conversion and (American) sociology overall.

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Ines W. Jindra, Ph.D. (2005), is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. She has published articles on religious conversion and religious development, and most recently on religious conversion from a sociological perspective. Besides religion, she is interested in qualitative research methods, biographies, poverty, and urban issues.
This book is of interest to those seeking to understand religious conversion, and those in the areas of sociology of religion, psychology of religion, religious studies, and the narrative interview.