Most studies on New Age spirituality remain overly descriptive and lack solid, empirically grounded historical-sociological explanations for its increasing popularity since the counter culture of the 1960s and 1970s. The authors therefore study the motivations of the 'first generation' spiritual seekers to turn to the New Age on the basis of 42 qualitative interviews with Dutch New Age teachers who grew up in the counter culture. The analysis demonstrates that they were motivated by discontentment about Christian churches and modern work organizations, especially in the field of social care. Due to the countercultural emphasis on individual liberty, the respondents experienced institutions as both 'meaningless' and 'alienating' and felt attracted to the promises of humanistic self-spirituality and holism. In the conclusion the authors speculate on how and why the young 'second generation' New Agers turns to spirituality nowadays and in what ways their motivations differ from those of the first generation.

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Social Compass: international review of sociology of religion
Department of Sociology

van Otterloo, A., Aupers, S., & Houtman, D. (2012). Trajectories to the New Age. The spiritual turn of the first generation of Dutch New Age teachers. Social Compass: international review of sociology of religion, 59(2), 239–256. doi:10.1177/0037768612440965