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date: 06 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Different varieties of Pentecostalism are successful in Latin America, where Chile, Brazil, and the Central American countries are now 20 to 30 percent Protestant. This chapter analyzes conversion processes and social networks in Latin America by comparing the two extremes of Pentecostal growth. Paraguay is arguably the least Pentecostalized country in the region, whereas Chile is one of the most Pentecostal. Based on recent ethnographic fieldwork research in Asunción and Santiago de Chile, the chapter first reviews the literature on Pentecostal growth in Latin America and establishes the main growth periods of Pentecostalism in both countries, identifying some of the most successful churches. Next, it analyzes the role of conversion in these churches by drawing on the conversion career approach, using quotes from life history interviews. Individual, contextual, and institutional factors (like doctrine, ritual, organization, and evangelization methods) are explored, as well as the role of the new converts’ social networks. The conclusion offers a new theoretical framework for analyzing the role of social networks in Pentecostal conversion for the Chile and Paraguay cases and for Latin America in general.

Keywords: conversion, social networks, Pentecostalism, Latin America, Paraguay, Chile

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