Choosing to be Stigmatized: Rational calculus in religious conversion

Tudor Pitulac, Sebastian Nastuta


Starting with an empirical study of several Jehovah s Witnesses1 congregations we aim to highlight the social mechanisms of religious conversion and the phases an individual passes through before becoming a Witness. By applying Lewis Rambo s systemic stage model of conversion we are able to identify a series of elements that characterize the conversion to this religion in Romania, such as: social filtering, delegitimation of the previous religion, and incipient identification with the Witnesses group. The article asserts that the Witnesses decision to convert implies the deliberate assumption of the others disapproval and even social stigmatization. Nevertheless they opt for this religious status because the immediate benefits brought by the religious community and the future benefits of the earthly Heaven offer them sufficient motives for becoming Witnesses.


Religious conversion, Jehovah s Witnesses, Rational calculus, Subjective rationality, commitment, social stigmatization

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