The paranormal

Conceptualizations in previous research

  • Cristoffer Tidelius Uppsala University
Keywords: The paranormal, Religious studies, Occulture, The cultic milieu


In this article, I explore previous conceptualizations of ‘the paranormal’ within religious studies and the social sciences. Introducing some statistics on paranormal variables in Western populations, I argue that the empirical data make a strong case for future studies of paranormal variables, as well as warranting conceptual clarification. Sketching an outline of previous conceptualizations of ‘the paranormal’, I conclude that definitions tend to stress that purportedly paranormal phenomena transgress the boundaries of scientific explanation, as well as demonstrate a degree of tension towards both mainstream or institutionalized science and religion. Lastly, I present the main contribution of the article: an attempt at a new working definition of the term ‘the paranormal’ based on the conceptualizations reviewed, encompassing substantial and discursive components and, possibly, functional ones.

Label for peer-reviewed scholarly publications
How to Cite
Tidelius, C. (2020). The paranormal: Conceptualizations in previous research. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 29(1), 216–38.