From Religion to Spirituality—Megatrend in Contemporary Society or Methodological Artefact? A Contribution to the Secularization Debate from Psychology of Religion

in Journal of Religion in Europe
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Abstract

After a short discussion of important issues concerning the secularization debate and the three meta-narratives involved in this debate (decline, transformation, rise), the following question is addressed: in modern societies, has 'religion' given way to 'spirituality' on the individual level? After a critique of different conceptualizations of spirituality for empirical research and a sample discussion of survey data (results of the European Values Study for the Netherlands between 1980 and 2000), the answer is negative. The suggestion is that spirituality appears as a megatrend in the mass media marketing commodities and in the publications of social scientists trying to attract a broader audience. But the so-called spiritual trend at the level of individual 'religious' orientations is the result of a questionable terminological construction or a questionable interpretation of survey data or arises from a combination of the two.

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