ABSTRACT This article argues that New Age spirituality is substantially less unambiguously individualistic and more socially and publicly significant than today’s sociological consensus acknowledges. Firstly, an uncontested doctrine of self-spirituality, characterised by sacralisation of the self and demonisation of social institutions, provides the spiritual milieu with ideological coherence and paradoxically accounts for its overwhelming diversity. Secondly, participants undergo a process of socialisation, gradually adopting this doctrine of self-spirituality and eventually reinforcing it by means of standardised legitimations. Thirdly, spirituality has entered the public sphere of work, aiming at a reduction of employees’ alienation to increase both their happiness and organisational effectiveness. A radical ‘sociologisation’ of New Age research is called for to document how the doctrinal ideal of self-spirituality is socially constructed, transmitted, and reinforced and critically to deconstruct rather than reproduce sociologically naive New Age rhetoric about the primacy of personal authenticity.

New Age, Thomas Luckmann, privatization thesis, socialization, spirituality, work environment
dx.doi.org/10.1080/13537900600655894, hdl.handle.net/1765/16584
Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)
Journal of Contemporary Religion
Department of Sociology

Aupers, S.D, & Houtman, D. (2006). Beyond the spiritual supermarket : the social and public significance of New Age spirituality. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 21(2), 201–222. doi:10.1080/13537900600655894