Part A- Introduction
1. Terms of Reference
2. Research Questions and Objectives
This Field Study deals with two main research questions:
1. Why do people in general turn to clairvoyants and psychics? This research question deals with the modern western culture and its beliefs. I tried to keep my focus to a small concrete group of people. 2. The role of South African diviners and fortunetellers. To interpret this question it is important to distinguish between fortunetelling and divination. The term divination is used for predictions used as part of a religious ritual. (Associated Press, 2010) The second research question attracts a more cross-cultural perspective.
Personally I am skeptical, however I find it very fascinating how the interest in asking clairvoyants or psychics for help and advice has exploded over the last couple of years (Goode, 1999). Especially considering that no one has scientifically proven psychic powers. With this field study I want to find out why people tend to go to clairvoyants or psychics. Furthermore I want to explain whether there is a difference in how two different cultures see and use fortunetelling. .
3. Introduction & Historical context
Despite the growing popularity of clairvoyance and psychic abilities this topic has not received much attention from sociologists. (Goode, 1999) Should it? How come more and more people turn to clairvoyants and psychics? (Little, 2009). Some polls even suggest that more than half of people in the UK believe in psychic powers. This huge popularity shows a growing need in people for a meaningful spiritual encounter (Little, 2009). It is not simply the stupid or the uneducated people, who turn to psychics; a recent report shows that there is a huge increase from wealthy professionals seeking advice from psychics on how to survive the credit crunch. (Leach, 2009) “The UK is supposed to be a skeptical country, but it's the skeptics themselves that the majority of people don't believe.” (Little, 2009) Although this field study focuses on why people turn to clairvoyants and psychics it is essential to have some background information about the usage of clairvoyance and fortunetellers. In most cultures there have been reports of clairvoyance throughout history. On several occasions clairvoyance also have been integrated into some of the world's most widespread religions. It has been associated with religious and shamanic figures and practices. (Richardson, 2009) In Catholicism for instance, clairvoyance has often been considered as being miraculous. In Buddhism and in ancient Hindu religions humans are capable to sense things, when they reach a certain advanced level of meditation and have a strong personal discipline. (Story, 2010) Most traditional African religions are spiritually practiced. (Princetonline, Early History of Africa) In African society, many people ask diviners for advice on a regular basis. There are unlike the western world, where fortune telling in a particular time in history has been considered a sin against religion, no prohibitions against the practice (Jorgensen & Jorgensen 1982, p. 377). Fortunetellers in African society are also coveted for their wisdom as counsellors and for their knowledge of herbal medicine. One of the most ancient and traditional forms of divination in Africa is called casting (or throwing) the bones. In this ritual, any kind of question or issue can be presented. The information that is obtained from the Bones is giving a deep spiritual and psychological insight. (African tradition, wikipedia) Because of the fact that there is no scientific proof of the existence of paranormal and psychic abilities clairvoyance is highly controversial.
4. Specific Background
By the late twentieth century psychics and clairvoyants were usually associated with the New Age culture (Daniel,1999). Psychic readings were offered through a wide range of...