Secret societies are becoming increasingly controversial—thrust into public awareness by popular books, films, the Internet, and a host of recent documentaries. In academia, this exposure finds a parallel in the proliferation of research, institutes, and conferences. Yet the media depictions tend to be caricatures, a playing to pervasive stereotypes for public consumption, while the academic stress historical and philological matters. Indeed, to the extent a sociological focus exists, it largely emphasizes the roles these groups played in social history. And for the societies’ members themselves, there has been a paucity of work on the contemporary meaning of these groups—a neglect made mystifying by the vast social changes that have taken place over the past century. In this study, and for the first time by any scholar, Kenney moves beyond history and applies the methods and theoretical tools of contemporary sociology to study the lived world of freemasons in today’s society. To provide a clear portrait of the patterned experiences of contemporary freemasons and the issues faced by “the Craft” today, Kenney draws on qualitative data from three primary sources: (1) extensive interviews with 121 contemporary freemasons in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; (2) video footage shot for a feature film on contemporary freemasonry; and (3) his observations and experiences in nearly fifteen years as a freemason. Brought to Light provides a highly original contribution to sociology, Masonic scholarship, and the social sciences generally.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
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