New academic paper: "Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field," International Journal for the Study of New Religions

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Independent Scientology and Nation of Islam news
New academic paper: "Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field," International Journal for the Study of New Religions.

The International Journal for the Study of New Religions has a new paper about the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone:

Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field

Challenges, Barriers, and Methods

International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol. 10 No. 2 (2019).

Authors Aled J. Ll. Thomas
The Open University Alt-Ac.UK

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsnr.41396


Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field | International Journal for the Study of New Religions.



IJSNR smaller-MAR.jpg


* * * * * BEGIN INTRODUCTION * * * * *

Abstract

An increasing number of scholars are turning their attention towards the study of Scientology, the New Religious Movement founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Such studies tend to focus on the institutionalized Church of Scientology (CoS). However, of increasing importance to the study of Scientology is the rise of the Free Zone—a category for groups of individuals who identify as Scientologists but practise outside the CoS. The CoS and Free Zone have experienced a turbulent history. Both groups often view one another with suspicion, raising debates concerning legitimacy and Scientological heresy. Successfully navigating between both the CoS and Free Zone in the field requires a careful approach on behalf of the scholar. Furthermore, working with both the CoS and Free Zone individually also presents specific challenges, particularly in terms of gaining the trust of fieldwork participants. This article draws from the author’s fieldwork with both the CoS and the Free Zone as a case study of the challenges faced when conducting fieldwork with minority groups in direct opposition to one another, and explores ethnographic issues that have arisen in the contemporary study of Scientology.

Author Biography

Aled J. Ll. Thomas, The Open University Alt-Ac.UK

Aled J. Ll. Thomas is a co-founder of Alt-Ac.UK and a Visiting Fellow at the Open University. He has recently completed his doctorate on the topic of Auditing in contemporary and Free Zone Scientologies. His research interests include fluid forms of contemporary religion, material culture, and lived religion. He has presented papers on his research at conferences in the UK, Europe, and USA. He is the author of the forthcoming Free Zone Scientology: Contesting the Boundaries of a New Religion.

References

Cowan, Douglas E. 2009. Researching Scientology: Perceptions, Premises, Promises, and Problematics. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 53–79. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Researching Scientology: Perceptions, Premises, Promises, and Problematics

Cusack, Carole M. 2016. “Squirrels” and Unauthorized Uses of Scientology: Werner Erhard and EST, Ken Dyers and Kenja, and Harvey Jackins and Re-Evaluation Counselling. In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesøy, 485–506. Leiden: Brill. “Squirrels” and Unauthorized Uses of Scientology: Werner Erhard and est, Ken Dyers and Kenja, and Harvey Jackins and Re-Evaluation Counselling

Graham, Ruth 2014. Are Academics Afraid to Study Scientology? https://daily.jstor.org/scholarson-scientology/

Gregg, Stephen E. and Thomas, Aled J. Ll. 2019 “Scientology Inside Out: Complex Religious Belonging in the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone.” In The Insider Outsider Debate: New Perspectives in the Study of Religion, edited by George D. Chryssides and Stephen E. Gregg, 350–370. Sheffield: Equinox.

Grossman, Wendy M. 1995. alt.scientology.war. alt.scientology.war

Hubbard, L. Ron 1950. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Copenhagen: New Era Publications (this edition 2007).

Scientology: A History of Man. Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

Have You Lived Before This Life? Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

a. Keeping Scientology Working. https://stss.nl/stss-materials/English/Courses Black und White Printing EN_BW_CR/EN_BW_CR_Keeping_Scientology_Working__KSW.pdf

b. Safeguarding Technology. http://internationalfreezone.net/safeguardingtechnology.shtml

Introduction to Scientology Ethics. Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

Lamont, Stewart 1986. Religion Inc. The Church of Scientology. London: HARRAP.

Lewis, James R. 2009. Introduction. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 3–14. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof: oso/9780195331493.003.0001

Scientology: Up Stat, Down Stat. In The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements, edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein, 133–149, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Scientology: up stat, down stat (Chapter 8) - The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements

Free Zone Scientology and Other Movement Milieus: A Preliminary Characterization. Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 49(2): 255–

The Dror Center Schism, The Cook Letter and Scientology’s Legitimation Crisis. In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesøy, 462–484. Leiden: Brill. The Dror Center Schism, The Cook Letter and Scientology’s Legitimation Crisis

Monahan, Torin and Jill A. Fisher. 2015. Strategies for Obtaining Access to Secretive or Guarded Organizations. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 44(6): 709–736. SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class research journals

Melton, J. Gordon. 2000. Studies in Contemporary Religion: The Church of Scientology. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books.

Birth of a Religion. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 17–33. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Birth of a Religion

Peckham, Michael. 1998. New Dimensions of Social Movement/Countermovement Interaction: The Case of Scientology and its Internet Critics. The Canadian Journal of Sociology 23(4): 317–347. New Dimensions of Social Movement/Countermovement Interaction: The Case of Scientology and Its Internet Critics on JSTOR

Rigal-Cellard, Bernadette. 2009. Scientology Missions International (SMI): An Immutable Model of Technological Missionary Activity. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 325–334. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Scientology Missions International (SMI): An Immutable Model of Technological Missionary Activity

Robertson, Bill. 1983. “Captain Bill Robertson at Crown Hotel Meeting 1983 East Grinstead Scientology.avi.”

Ron’s Org Committee. n.d. “Myths and Facts About Captain Bill Robertson.” http://ronsorg.com/roc/english/mythaboutcbr.htm

Schorey, Shannon T. S. 2016. “‘LRH4ALL!’”: The Negotiation of Information in the Church of Scientology and the Open Source Scientology Movement.” In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesøy, 341–359. Leiden: Brill. “LRH4ALL!”: The Negotiation of Information in the Church of Scientology and the Open Source Scientology Movement

Scientology Cult. 2018. “The Indie 500.” The Indie 500 | www.scientology-cult.com South Park.

“Trapped in the Closet.” Directed by Trey Parker. Written by Trey Parker and Kenny Hotz.
Comedy Central, November 16.

The Church of Scientology International. 1998. What is Scientology? California: Bridge Publications.

Thomas, Aled J. Ll. 2021. (Forthcoming). Free Zone Scientology: Contesting the Boundaries of a New Religion. London: Bloomsbury.

Urban, Hugh B. 2011. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. The Church of Scientology

Wallis, Roy. 1976. The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology. London: Heinemann.

Westbrook, Donald. 2016. “Walking in Ron’s Footsteps: Pilgrimage Sites of the Church of Scientology.” Numen 63(1): 71–94. https://doi.org/10.1163/15685276-12341409

a. Among the Scientologists: History, Theology, and Praxis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190664978.001.0001

b. “Scientology Studies 2.0: Lessons Learned and Paths Forward.” Religion Compass 14(2): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec3.12345

Whitehead, Harriet. 1987. Renunciation and Reformulation: A Study of Conversion in an American Sect. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UBiographyBPress.

* * * * * END INTRODUCTION * * * * *
 
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HelluvaHoax!

Well-known member
New academic paper: "Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field," International Journal for the Study of New Religions.

The International Journal for the Study of New Religions has a new paper about the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone:

Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field

Challenges, Barriers, and Methods

International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol. 10 No. 2 (2019).

Authors Aled J. Ll. Thomas
The Open University Alt-Ac.UK

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsnr.41396


Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field | International Journal for the Study of New Religions.



View attachment 7980


* * * * * BEGIN INTRODUCTION * * * * *

Abstract

An increasing number of scholars are turning their attention towards the study of Scientology, the New Religious Movement founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Such studies tend to focus on the institutionalized Church of Scientology (CoS). However, of increasing importance to the study of Scientology is the rise of the Free Zone—a category for groups of individuals who identify as Scientologists but practise outside the CoS. The CoS and Free Zone have experienced a turbulent history. Both groups often view one another with suspicion, raising debates concerning legitimacy and Scientological heresy. Successfully navigating between both the CoS and Free Zone in the field requires a careful approach on behalf of the scholar. Furthermore, working with both the CoS and Free Zone individually also presents specific challenges, particularly in terms of gaining the trust of fieldwork participants. This article draws from the author’s fieldwork with both the CoS and the Free Zone as a case study of the challenges faced when conducting fieldwork with minority groups in direct opposition to one another, and explores ethnographic issues that have arisen in the contemporary study of Scientology.

Author Biography

Aled J. Ll. Thomas, The Open University Alt-Ac.UK

Aled J. Ll. Thomas is a co-founder of Alt-Ac.UK and a Visiting Fellow at the Open University. He has recently completed his doctorate on the topic of Auditing in contemporary and Free Zone Scientologies. His research interests include fluid forms of contemporary religion, material culture, and lived religion. He has presented papers on his research at conferences in the UK, Europe, and USA. He is the author of the forthcoming Free Zone Scientology: Contesting the Boundaries of a New Religion.

References

Cowan, Douglas E. 2009. Researching Scientology: Perceptions, Premises, Promises, and Problematics. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 53–79. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Researching Scientology: Perceptions, Premises, Promises, and Problematics

Cusack, Carole M. 2016. “Squirrels” and Unauthorized Uses of Scientology: Werner Erhard and EST, Ken Dyers and Kenja, and Harvey Jackins and Re-Evaluation Counselling. In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesøy, 485–506. Leiden: Brill. “Squirrels” and Unauthorized Uses of Scientology: Werner Erhard and est, Ken Dyers and Kenja, and Harvey Jackins and Re-Evaluation Counselling

Graham, Ruth 2014. Are Academics Afraid to Study Scientology? https://daily.jstor.org/scholarson-scientology/

Gregg, Stephen E. and Thomas, Aled J. Ll. 2019 “Scientology Inside Out: Complex Religious Belonging in the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone.” In The Insider Outsider Debate: New Perspectives in the Study of Religion, edited by George D. Chryssides and Stephen E. Gregg, 350–370. Sheffield: Equinox.

Grossman, Wendy M. 1995. alt.scientology.war. alt.scientology.war

Hubbard, L. Ron 1950. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Copenhagen: New Era Publications (this edition 2007).

Scientology: A History of Man. Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

Have You Lived Before This Life? Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

a. Keeping Scientology Working. https://stss.nl/stss-materials/English/Courses Black und White Printing EN_BW_CR/EN_BW_CR_Keeping_Scientology_Working__KSW.pdf

b.Safeguarding Technology. http://internationalfreezone.net/safeguardingtechnology.shtml

Introduction to Scientology Ethics. Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

Lamont, Stewart 1986. Religion Inc. The Church of Scientology. London: HARRAP.

Lewis, James R. 2009. Introduction. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 3–14. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof: oso/9780195331493.003.0001

Scientology: Up Stat, Down Stat. In The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements, edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein, 133–149, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Scientology: up stat, down stat (Chapter 8) - The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements

Free Zone Scientology and Other Movement Milieus: A Preliminary Characterization. Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 49(2): 255–

The Dror Center Schism, The Cook Letter and Scientology’s Legitimation Crisis. In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesøy, 462–484. Leiden: Brill. The Dror Center Schism, The Cook Letter and Scientology’s Legitimation Crisis

Monahan, Torin and Jill A. Fisher. 2015. Strategies for Obtaining Access to Secretive or Guarded Organizations. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 44(6): 709–736. SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class research journals

Melton, J. Gordon. 2000. Studies in Contemporary Religion: The Church of Scientology. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books.

Birth of a Religion. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 17–33. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Birth of a Religion

Peckham, Michael. 1998. New Dimensions of Social Movement/Countermovement Interaction: The Case of Scientology and its Internet Critics. The Canadian Journal of Sociology 23(4): 317–347. New Dimensions of Social Movement/Countermovement Interaction: The Case of Scientology and Its Internet Critics on JSTOR

Rigal-Cellard, Bernadette. 2009. Scientology Missions International (SMI): An Immutable Model of Technological Missionary Activity. In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 325–334. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Scientology Missions International (SMI): An Immutable Model of Technological Missionary Activity

Robertson, Bill. 1983. “Captain Bill Robertson at Crown Hotel Meeting 1983 East Grinstead Scientology.avi.”

Ron’s Org Committee. n.d. “Myths and Facts About Captain Bill Robertson.” http://ronsorg.com/roc/english/mythaboutcbr.htm

Schorey, Shannon T. S. 2016. “‘LRH4ALL!’”: The Negotiation of Information in the Church of Scientology and the Open Source Scientology Movement.” In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesøy, 341–359. Leiden: Brill. “LRH4ALL!”: The Negotiation of Information in the Church of Scientology and the Open Source Scientology Movement

Scientology Cult. 2018. “The Indie 500.” The Indie 500 | www.scientology-cult.com South Park.

“Trapped in the Closet.” Directed by Trey Parker. Written by Trey Parker and Kenny Hotz.
Comedy Central, November 16.

The Church of Scientology International. 1998. What is Scientology? California: Bridge Publications.

Thomas, Aled J. Ll. 2021. (Forthcoming). Free Zone Scientology: Contesting the Boundaries of a New Religion. London: Bloomsbury.

Urban, Hugh B. 2011. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. The Church of Scientology

Wallis, Roy. 1976. The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology. London: Heinemann.

Westbrook, Donald. 2016. “Walking in Ron’s Footsteps: Pilgrimage Sites of the Church of Scientology.” Numen 63(1): 71–94. Walking in Ron’s Footsteps: “Pilgrimage” Sites of the Church of Scientology

a. Among the Scientologists: History, Theology, and Praxis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Among the Scientologists

b. “Scientology Studies 2.0: Lessons Learned and Paths Forward.” Religion Compass 14(2): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec3.12345

Whitehead, Harriet. 1987. Renunciation and Reformulation: A Study of Conversion in an American Sect. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UBiographyBPress.

* * * * * END INTRODUCTION * * * * *
.

I wonder if anyone ever reads these scholarly abstractions about Scientology. Who in the world would find this type of academically nano-nuanced irrelevancy valuable?

"This article draws from the author’s fieldwork with both the CoS and the Free Zone as a case study of the challenges faced when conducting fieldwork with minority groups in direct opposition to one another, and explores ethnographic issues that have arisen in the contemporary study of Scientology."
Seriously? The most important issue regarding the criminally corrupt pseudoscientific hoax of Scientology is explained by using an electron microscope to examine "ethnographic issues" of "minority groups"? LOL!

Can these Scientology scholars think of nothing of interest to research about an avariciously gaslighting cult, fanatically victimizing everyone in its wake en route to its goal of enslaving the world? It would be like a doctoral thesis that purports to illuminate the mass suicide of 909 cult members at Jonestown, but the title ends up being: "Exploring Modern Rainforest Modalities of Flora Displacement by Random Cadaveric Ecosystem Anomalies" (i.e. how are leaves and branches bent exactly when people kill themselves and fall down on them).


.
 
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ILove2Lurk

Lisbeth Salander
Who in the world would find this type of academically nano-nuanced irrelevancy valuable?
Back a couple hundred or couple thousand years ago, people needed to hunt, farm and slave
from early morning to night just to feed a family. I guess nowadays we're lucky enough to have
such an overabundance of everything under the sun, we can afford to indulge in meaningless
academic silliness. :coolwink:

On, well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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ISNOINews

Independent Scientology and Nation of Islam news
.Who in the world would find this type of academically nano-nuanced irrelevancy valuable?

"This article draws from the author’s fieldwork with both the CoS and the Free Zone as a case study of the challenges faced when conducting fieldwork with minority groups in direct opposition to one another, and explores ethnographic issues that have arisen in the contemporary study of Scientology."
.
I actually think it would be useful IF it were done scientifically -- which in this case would require the scholar to go in undercover so that their presence does not influence the subjects' behavior and thus the scholar's findings.

The Wikipedia article on ethnography notes:


Ethnography - Wikipedia


* * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

In order to make the data collection and interpretation transparent, researchers creating ethnographies often attempt to be "reflexive". Reflexivity refers to the researcher's aim "to explore the ways in which [the] researcher's involvement with a particular study influences, acts upon and informs such research".[15]

* * * * * END EXCERPT * * * * *

If, as was probably the case here and is apparently usually the case with New Religious Movement scholars, the scholar announces their identity and makes formal arrangements to study the Scientology group, they are going to get a load of pr bs.

Another problem is that scholars of religion are generally not anthropologists and are generally not trained in anthropology. Thus, one could argue that they simply don't have the academic tools to study actual, lived behavior, as opposed to their primary focus, exegesis of text.

A further problem is that New Religious Movement scholars, in particular, are inculcated with strong norms of being respectful and nonjudgmental, which can deter them from reaching harsh conclusions, no matter how empirically based.

Yet another practical problem is the issue of access. If a scholar harshly criticizes a subject, the scholar may be denied access in the future, which may harm their career. (I've been told that this is a particular problem for scholars who study China, for example.)

For the foregoing reasons, I suspect this particular paper and the upcoming book by Aled J. Ll. Thomas will both be useless crap. I am willing to be proven wrong. I honestly hope that I am.
 

HelluvaHoax!

Well-known member
.

I actually think it would be useful IF it were done scientifically -- which in this case would require the scholar to go in undercover so that their presence does not influence the subjects' behavior and thus the scholar's findings.
...
.
I love the concept of a scholar actually doing something scholarly, as you suggest---going in undercover to see what actually happens inside Scientology.

Better yet, an entire team of researchers going inside via different portals. One as a paying public. Another joins the Sea Org. Another works their way up the corporate ladder, eventually winding up serving directly under COB. And yet another working inside OSA's Department of Standard Fair Gaming.

That would be real research, not just long distance S&S (spectating and speculating). They really have no clue what is happening--I've read some of those scholarly studies and they routinely get hung up on the most arcane irrelevancies and comically misdirected priorities. If they were doing an entomological study in a remote Pacific island, they'd madly be scribbling in their notebook about the geometric networking efficiency of foraging ant formations that have discovered a Snickers bar. The scholar would be peering at marching ants at close distances thru a high-powered magnifying glass. Meanwhile the mountain they are working on is a volcano that has already started to erupt and fiery lava is cascading towards them at frightening speeds---but they don't notice it. The important thing is the way ants line up in formation while carrying pieces of the chocolate bar, don't you see? LOL.

.
 

HelluvaHoax!

Well-known member
Back a couple hundred or couple thousand years ago, people needed to hunt, farm and slave
from early morning to night just to feed a family. I guess nowadays we're lucky enough to have
such an overabundance of everything under the sun, we can afford to indulge in meaningless
academic silliness. :coolwink:

On, well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
.
I sometimes personally find these academic treatises riveting. For example, I was up all last night in order to finish reading "Mid-Fifteenth Century Borneo and the Advent of Iron Age Tooling's Effect on Nose Bone Aesthetics". Highly recommended--a real page turner!!!


.
 

ISNOINews

Independent Scientology and Nation of Islam news
If they were doing an entomological study in a remote Pacific island, they'd madly be scribbling in their notebook about the geometric networking efficiency of foraging ant formations that have discovered a Snickers bar. The scholar would be peering at marching ants at close distances thru a high-powered magnifying glass. Meanwhile the mountain they are working on is a volcano that has already started to erupt and fiery lava is cascading towards them at frightening speeds---but they don't notice it. The important thing is the way ants line up in formation while carrying pieces of the chocolate bar, don't you see? LOL.
Obviously, anyone -- including scientists deep in study -- should retain enough awareness of their surroundings to not be incinerated by molten lava.

But recognizing that entomologists generally don't study volcanos, and leaving aside the danger of exploding volcanos, if an entomologist was "scribbling in their notebook about the geometric networking efficiency of foraging ant formations," they would be doing real science. See:

Journal of Experimental Biology: The internal maps of insects


The internal maps of insects


* * * * * BEGIN ABSTRACT * * * * *

ABSTRACT

Insect navigation is strikingly geometric. Many species use path integration to maintain an accurate estimate of their distance and direction (a vector) to their nest and can store the vector information for multiple salient locations in the world, such as food sources, in a common coordinate system. Insects can also use remembered views of the terrain around salient locations or along travelled routes to guide return, which is a fundamentally geometric process. Recent modelling of these abilities shows convergence on a small set of algorithms and assumptions that appear sufficient to account for a wide range of behavioural data. Notably, this ‘base model’ does not include any significant topological knowledge: the insect does not need to recover the information (implicit in their vector memory) about the relationships between salient places; nor to maintain any connectedness or ordering information between view memories; nor to form any associations between views and vectors. However, there remains some experimental evidence not fully explained by this base model that may point towards the existence of a more complex or integrated mental map in insects.

* * * * * END ABSTRACT * * * * *

My point is that there is a difference between recognizing that science was done poorly, or could be done better, and saying that a particular area of science is not worth doing at all.

One could easily make fun of the paper "The internal maps of insects," yet off the top of my head I could see its findings being useful not only in the areas of biology and brain development, but also in the areas of algorithm and computational efficiency (e.g., the finding that "this ‘base model’ does not include any significant topological knowledge: the insect does not need to recover the information (implicit in their vector memory) about the relationships between salient places; nor to maintain any connectedness or ordering information between view memories; nor to form any associations between views and vectors.").
 
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