1st Edition

New Religions and the Mediation of Non-Monogamy Polyamory, Polygamy, and Reality Television

By Michelle Mueller Copyright 2022
    248 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    New Religions and the Mediation of Non-Monogamy examines the relationship between alternative American religions and the media representation of non-monogamies on reality-TV shows like Sister Wives, Seeking Sister Wife, and Polyamory: Married & Dating. The book is the first full-length study informed by fieldwork with Mormon polygamists and fieldwork with LGBTQ Neo-Pagan/Neo-Tantric polyamorists. The book tracks community members’ responses to the new media about them, their engagement with television and other media, and the likeness of representations to actual populations through fieldwork and interviews.

    The book highlights differences in socioeconomic privileges that shape Mormon polygamists’ lives and LGBTQ polyamorists’ lives, respectively. The polyamory movement receives support from liberal media. As reality TV has shifted the image of Mormon polygamy to one of liberal American middle-class culture, Mormon polygamists have gained in public favor. The media landscape of non-monogamy is mediated by, in addition to these alternative religious populations, the norms and practices of the reality-TV industry and by sociocultural and economic realities, including race and class.

    This book adds to the fields of media studies, critical race and gender studies, new religious movements, and queer studies.

    Introduction. Researching "Swingers" and "Saints" on Exhibit

    1 Twenty-First Century Mormon Fundamentalism: Ethnographic Observations

    2 From Raids to Rallies: Polygamy, Class, and New Media

    3 Mormon Polygamist Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century

    4 Gnostic Esoterism in Mormon Fundamentalism

    5 Polyamory as Religious Sexual Counter-Culture: The New Charmed Circle

    6 Sisterhood, Patriarchy, and Bromance: New Perspectives on Gender, Labor, and Power in Polyamory and Polygamy

    7 Polygamy and Polyamory in the Era of The Bachelor: Intersectional Observations Regarding Religion, Media, and Society


    Michelle Mueller teaches religion and ethnography, sociology of religion, and other courses at Santa Clara University. She is a faculty fellow of the college’s Center for the Arts and Humanities.

    "Based on research Mueller conducted for over a decade, this is a book grounded in theory and empirical evidence. Perhaps wishing to include too much at times, this volume is still an exciting contribution to the study of contemporary American media and the representation and position of alternative faiths and lifestyles on American soil." - Iren E. Annus, University of Szeged