De-traditionalisation of Religion and Self: The New Age and Postmodernity

  • Paul Heelas


This chapter considers a number of claims concerning the de-tradition-alisation of the cultural realm. This process reflects the movement from the externally organised to the vagus (the ‘wandering’ or ‘straying’ as the SOED puts it). The context is thus set for exploring a particular instance of the internalising shift to the apparently de-traditionalised and thus post-modern, that known as the New Age movement. It can be argued that this form of spirituality is not postmodern, one reason being that, in practice, it could well be more traditionalised than first appearances might indicate; another being that New Age sacralisation of the self aims to provide an essentialised foundationalism of identity and authority. The central purpose of this chapter is to challenge the link between New Age beliefs and postmodernism.


Consumer Culture Religious Expression Late Capitalism Spiritual Realm Cultural Realm 
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Copyright information

© Kieran Flanagan and Peter C. Jupp 1999

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  • Paul Heelas

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