David William Mac Gillavry

Masaryk University

United we Fall; on the Pro-Social Effects of Communal Transgressions of Social Norms, and their Implications for the Study of Western Esotericism

Although not integral to Western Esotericism, the transgression of taboo frequently forms a dominant aspect of esoteric philosophies and practices. Performing acts which are aimed at consciously breaking social norms with others, seems to serve several functions amongst which the confirmation of in-group identity (we are different, have different values, etc.), the reinvention of personal identity (through challenging previously held beliefs) and the demonstration of loyalty towards the group by individual members. Little quantitative research has however been done into conscious communal transgressions of the social norms which are widely held within the larger socio-cultural context within which they take place. In this paper I present the results of a pilot study which addresses the effects of conscious acts of communal transgressions of social norms on in-group cohesion and discuss how these results may shed light on the specific case of rule transgression in Western Esotericism.