Friday, October 31, 2008

What did you expect on Halloween?

Here's an article on Wicca, a neopagan religion that economists of religion have not much studied (though others have). One interesting thing for us about Wicca is that Wiccans explicitly incorporate magic into their beliefs and practice. At first glance, we would expect the credibility of Wicca practices and beliefs to diminish as magical claims are falsified, but you might be surprised to know that the number of Wiccans appears to be growing. My guess is that this is because Wicca groups are structured to provide club goods. For example, Wicca groups (e.g., covens) are kept small and there can be probation periods before entry, both of which work to weed out free-riders; and initiation rituals, which are easy to exclude but also social events in which many people can participate, are classic club goods. Wicca groups thus provide many of the types of goods provided by other religious groups. They are more different from other religious groups in degree than in type. See this wikipedia entry on Wicca for more information.

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