Superstitions as Behavioral Control in Pakistan

Article Title: Superstitions as Behavioral Control in Pakistan

Author(s): Tayyaba Batool Tahir, Shahzadah Fahed and Tayyaba Safi

Institute(s): Institute of Social Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan.

Journal: Pakistan Journal of social Sciences (PJSS) , Vol. 38, No.2 (2018), pp. 771-782

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Superstitions are prevalent all over the world in almost all fields of life (e.g. sports, politics, business, showbiz etc.). This study is designed to explore ubiquitous superstitious beliefs practiced in the rural community of Punjab, Pakistan. Jahovda (1992) argues that superstitious practices grow in the context of ignorance and almost all human societies have some superstitious tendencies. Varied cultures tend to have superstitious beliefs that sometimes overlap or contradict. For instance, black cats are considered to bring both good luck and bad luck in Western part of the world, whereas, in Indian sub-continent it is essentially a sign of bad luck. In Pakistani society, the word superstition has got a negative connotation not just because of its association with irrationality and illiteracy but primarily due to religious reasons. Islam, religion of 97 percent of Pakistan’s populations, strongly prohibits believing in superstitions. Therefore, many people generally reject that they believe in any form of superstitions. However, the ethnographic fieldwork conducted at Chak No. 233 WB, District Lodhran, Punjab, Pakistan for a period of five months depicted that many daily life practices of informants had strong superstitious underpinning. In this research, the researchers used simple random sampling technique. Participant observation and in-depth interviews were the main tool of data collection. The findings of this study revealed that a variety of superstitious beliefs are practiced in the rural areas of Pakistan. The determinants of these beliefs include gender, locality, the level of education, the level of family tensions, religion and sect, and economic conditions. The study concludes that several superstitious beliefs determine the daily life practices and decision-making of rural people in Pakistan.

Key words: Superstition, Superstitious practices, Superstitious belief, Pakistan, Decision-making, Gender


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