Neoliberal Mythmaking: On “Well-Being” as the New Protestant Work Ethic

In: Religion and Theology
Author: Craig Martin1
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  • 1 St. Thomas Aquinas College, Sparkill, NY 10976, USA

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Abstract

To what extent has modernization transformed those institutions and discourses commonly called ‘religions,’ and vice versa? How can we talk about those transformations without employing a naïve theory of secularization or privatization? And what is the connection between capitalism, modern ‘spirituality,’ and discourses on ‘well-being’? Situated within the tradition of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, this paper will propose how we might begin to answer such questions, and will consider a contemporary Sufi text as an example of one site where these questions converge.

  • Bourdieu Pierre Nice Richard Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste 1984 Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press

  • Carrette Jeremy & King Richard Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion 2005 London Routledge

  • Durkheim Emile Halls W. D. The Division of Labor in Society 1997 New York Free Press

  • Giddens Anthony Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age 1991 Stanford Stanford University Press

  • Levi-Strauss Claude Needham Rodney Totemism 1963 Boston Beacon

  • Lincoln Bruce Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 2006 Chicago University of Chicago Press

  • Lofton Kathryn Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon 2011 Berkeley University of California Press

  • Luckmann Thomas The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society 1967 New York Macmillan

  • Martin Craig Masking Hegemony: A Genealogy of Liberalism, Religion, and the Private Sphere 2010 London Equinox

  • Miller Peter & Nikolas Rose Governing the Present 2008 Cambridge Polity Press

  • Rath Tom & Harter Jim Well-Being: The Five Essential Elements 2010 New York Gallup Press

  • Rose Nikolas Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power, and Personhood 1998 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

  • Rose Nikolas Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self 1999 2nd ed. London Free Association Books

  • Sahlins Marshall Culture and Practical Reason 1976 Chicago University of Chicago Press

  • Witteveen H. J. Sufism in Action: Spiritualizing the Economy 2003 London Vega

  • 1

    See Craig Martin, Masking Hegemony: A Genealogy of Liberalism, Religion, and the Private Sphere (London: Equinox, 2010).

  • 2

    Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society (New York: Macmillan, 1967).

  • 3

    Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society (trans. W. D. Halls; New York: Free Press, 1997).

  • 4

    Claude Levi-Strauss, Totemism (trans. Rodney Needham; Boston: Beacon, 1963).

  • 5

    Marshall Sahlins, Culture and Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), 210.

  • 6

    Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (trans. Richard Nice; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984).

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  • 7

    Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 59.

  • 10

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 39.

  • 11

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 85.

  • 12

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 86.

  • 13

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 96.

  • 14

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 96.

  • 15

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 89.

  • 16

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 96.

  • 17

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 97.

  • 18

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 98–99.

  • 20

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 101.

  • 21

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 102.

  • 22

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 103.

  • 23

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 105.

  • 25

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 110.

  • 26

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 116.

  • 28

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 18.

  • 29

    Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, 22.

  • 31

    Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Well-Being: The Five Essential Elements (New York: Gallup Press, 2010).

  • 32

    Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (2nd ed.; London: Free Association Books, 1999).

  • 33

    Nikolas Rose, Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power, and Personhood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

  • 34

    Peter Miller and Nikolas Rose, Governing the Present (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008).

  • 35

    Miller and Rose, Governing the Present, 148.

  • 36

    Rose, Inventing Our Selves, 20.

  • 37

    Miller and Rose, Governing the Present, 49.

  • 38

    Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991).

  • 39

    Jeremy Carrette and Richard King, Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion (London: Routledge, 2005).

  • 40

    Kathryn Lofton, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

  • 42

    Lofton, Oprah, 87.

  • 43

    Lofton, Oprah, 49.

  • 44

    Lofton, Oprah, 50.

  • 45

    H. J. Witteveen, Sufism in Action: Spiritualizing the Economy (London: Vega, 2003).

  • 46

    Witteveen, Sufism in Action, 107.

  • 47

    Witteveen, Sufism in Action, 112.

  • 48

    Witteveen, Sufism in Action, 116.

  • 49

    Witteveen, Sufism in Action, 98.

  • 50

    Witteveen, Sufism in Action, 97–98.

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