Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Volume 1, No. 1

Belief in Astrology : a social-psychological analysis

Martin Bauer and John Durant

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Social scientists have suggested several different hypotheses to account for the prevalence of belief in astrology among certain sections of the public in modern times. It has been proposed: (1) that as an elaborate and systematic belief system, astrology is attractive to people with intermediate levels of scientific knowledge [the superficial knowledge hypothesis]; (2) that belief in astrology reflects a kind of 'metaphysical unrest' that is to be found amongst those with a religious orientation but little or no integration into the structures of organized religion, perhaps as a result of 'social disintegration' consequent upon the collapse of community or upon social mobility [the metaphysical unrest hypothesis]; and (3) that belief in astrology is prevalent amongst those with an 'authoritarian character' [authoritarian personality hypothesis]. The paper tests these hypotheses against the results of British survey data from 1988. The evidence appears to support variants of hypotheses (1) and (2), but not hypothesis (3). It is proposed that serious interest or involvement in astrology is not primarily the result of a lack of scientific knowledge or understanding; rather, it is a compensatory activity with considerable attractions to segments of the population whose social world is labile or transitional; belief in astrology may be an indicator of the disintegration of community and its concomitant uncertainties and anxieties. Paradoxical as it may appear, astrology may be part and parcel of late modernity.

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