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This work offers a sociological reading of the New Age Movement. There are many case studies and discussions of the various strands of New Age thinking which are offered interpretation in the light of both classical as well as contemporary social theory. This fully-documented volume provides balanced consideration of a spiritual, "inner-directed" movement which has broken with the moral heritage bequeathed to us as part of our modernity. This disjuncture - this de-traditionalization - is a major figuration in Heelas's narrative and is found at the heart of the most recent European social theory. The refusal to sit on the conveyor belt of modernity links the new age idea to that other paradigm of refusal - late - or post-modern fragmentation. This book serves as a starting point, as well as a mature contribution to the sociology of new religious movements. It should be useful as a core text for courses on new religious movements and sociology of religion, and should be of interest to theology students, clergy and new age activists alike.
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The New Age Movement represents one of the most facinating responses to the the defects and potentialities of modern times. In his ground-breaking work, Paul Heelas traces the growth and development of the Movement, identifies some of its key characteristics, and provides a critical perspective. This unique and extensively documented volume provides a balanced treatment of New Age ‘celebration of the self’, and situates it within the broader cultural context for the first time. It shows how the New Age is ambivalently related to modernity, offering both a radical spiritual alternative to the mainstream and a celebration of some of the characteristics features of modern life. Heelas thus iews the New Age both as an alternative counter cultural movement and as a spirituality of our times.
The volume, with it clarity of form and its critique of conventional opinion, serves as an excellent starting point and mature contribution to the study of contemporary spirituality. This will be a core text for courses on the Sociolofy of Religion, and should be of enormous interest to all those concerned with the study of culture and the utopian; anthropologists of modernity; historians of oppositional movements; theology students and clergy; and the New Age activists alike.About the Author:
Paul Heelas is Director of the Centre for Study of Cultural Values and Reader in Religion and Modernity in the Department of Religious Studies at Lancaster University.
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