At the Top of the Bill: a Structural Analysis of Claims to Charisma

E_RFS_543_H310This article focuses on the advertising practices of African Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in the greater Paris area, to determine how collaboration and competition among prophets are organized. In the last fifteen years, these church assemblies have taken to advertising their public events by way of poster campaigns. From mid-2008 to late 2011 I assembled a corpus of 200 posters providing information on nearly 500 different persons. My analysis of individual claims to charisma is twofold. First, limited as they are by the graphic space of the posters, such claims pertain to a world of unequal actors in which the various clerics are at the top of the bill. Second, analysis of the network made up of the reiterated presence of several persons on different posters shows that charisma validation depends not only on recognition by a crowd of people “charismatically dominated” by the extraordinary qualities of a given individual but also on effective recognition by peers and other charismatic personalities.

References : Coulmont (Baptiste), At the Top of the Bill: a Structural Analysis of Claims to Charisma, Revue française de sociologie (English), 2013, 54(3), 503-530
Translation of : Coulmont (Baptiste). « Tenir le haut de l’affiche : analyse structurale des prétentions au charisme », Revue française de sociologie, 2013, 54(3), p.507-536

Link to the corpus of posters used in the article