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Objectivity and the supernormal: the limitations of bracketing approaches in providing neutral accounts of supernormal claims

Northcote, J. (2004) Objectivity and the supernormal: the limitations of bracketing approaches in providing neutral accounts of supernormal claims. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 19 (1). pp. 85-98.

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Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1353790032000165131
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Abstract

This paper contends that bracketing approaches to the sociological study of supernatural, paranormal, and occult proponents do not truly 'bracket' the reality-claims made by those being studied, but instead impose ontological limits on what can be considered 'supernormal'. It is argued that such boundaries and definitions tend to rule out alternative ontological perspectives of the kind that researchers typically encounter among religious, paranormal, and occult proponents. It is also argued that, unlike earlier reductionist approaches to the supernormal, the bias of bracketing approaches is not necessarily based on an underlying sceptical outlook of researchers, but rather reflects an inherent ontological limitation within the sociological enterprise itself. It is recommended that bracketing should be replaced by a reflexive, dialogical approach that emphasises the ontological positioning of social analyses with respect to supernormal claims.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Carfax Publishing
Copyright: © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/4757
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