American Sociological Association

Enchanting Self-discipline: Methodical Reflexivity and the Search for the Supernatural in Charismatic Christian Testimonial Practice

Social science has long operated under the assumption that enchantment, seeking out this-worldly manifestations of the supernatural, impedes the cultivation of self-discipline. How, then, to account for a Christian brotherhood whose testimonial practice is at once enchanting and disciplining of the self? In this article, I define self-discipline in terms of its distinctly reflexive (self-aimed and self-governed) and methodical (systematic and auto-regenerative) character, and in doing so, I disentangle the concept from rational calculation as one (among other possible) means of disciplining the self. I draw on Ricoeur’s theory of personal identity to theorize a relationship of the self whose reflexive and methodical character is found not in rational calculation but in arational narration. I then show how the testimonial practice of a charismatic Christian businessmen’s brotherhood is disciplining of the self insofar as it is enchanting, how the practice is methodical and reflexive because it is one of arational narration.


Graham Hill





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