Profound Encounters: How Groups Cultivate Extraordinary Experiences of Social Realities

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation investigates how groups cultivate profound experiences of their circumstances. Based upon ethnographic research at a religious college retreat and with a group of paranormal investigators, I illustrate how both groups disrupted actors’ implicit expectations, leading actors to reinterpret who and what was in their midst. However, because these experiences were predicated upon thwarting actors’ sense of anticipation, such experiences were necessarily short-lived. Thus, each group had to consistently reorganize themselves in order to achieve similar experiences across time. In particular, the ghost-hunters sought out new places to hunt, and the retreat recruited new cohorts of participants. Over time, these second-order efforts to secure resources for extraordinary experiences led to increasing social organization, and a sense of the groups’ history. Because the capacity to anticipate specific events varied across the members of each group, actors who were more familiar with a specific event were well-positioned to strategically manage others’ expectations. Such interactions provided motivations for involvement (such as gleaning status) that were largely decoupled from the central tasks of the group.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07212011-162255

Author Christopher John Hausmann
Advisor Omar Lizardo
Contributor Erika Summers-Effler, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Omar Lizardo, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Eugene Halton, Committee Member
Contributor Rory McVeigh, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2011-05-31

Submission Date 2011-07-21
  • United States of America

  • social theory

  • culture

  • emotions

  • religion

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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