Alchemizing Capitalism: Occupational Tribalism and the Pursuit of the Authentic Self (thesis)
Alchemist Movement -- a spiritual group in Reno, Nevada -- formed around the idea of combining church and theater. While the Alchemists explicitly focus on helping people on their spiritual paths, they also maintain a "tribal" and anti-capitalist identity while paradoxically constructing a business model based on the commodification of the spiritual to provide for their livelihoods. Thus, different parts of the Alchemist's identities are in constant conflict with the world and, often, themselves. This project will investigate how they are able to maintain an anti-capitalistic tribal identity through social mechanisms from rituals, cult-like social organization, charisma, performance, and experiencing an active God in their own lives. Ultimately, studying the Alchemists reveals more about the inescapable nature of capitalism and the successes and challenges of maintaining an anti-capitalist bubble.
Thesis; [FULL-TEXT AVAILABLE FOLLOWING A 3-YEAR EMBARGO]Katherine Oakley is a member of the Class of 2019 of Washington and Lee University.