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Popular Spirituality

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the public aspect of spirituality from the angle of the term 'popular spirituality'. Instead of discussing the term theoretically with reference to concepts of spirituality suggested by other scholars, the argument builds on the findings of analyses of 'alternative' spirituality by Barker, Heelas, Woodhead and others. On this basis the chapter argues that spirituality is no longer an alternative to and different from religion but has become popular. To substantiate this argument it outlines a sociological notion of spirituality which can be subjected to empirical analysis while still responding sensitively to the fact that spirituality is an actors' category. The chapter summarizes the findings on the phenomenon of 'alternative spirituality' as a socio-scientific category, a social form and an actor's category. It provides quantitative evidence for the transformation of alternative spirituality into popular spirituality. Finally, the chapter specifies some aspects of what is meant by 'popular' spirituality.

Keywords: alternative spirituality; Barker; Heelas; popular spirituality; socio-scientific category; Woodhead



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