New Age Movements


New Age Movements

Growth of New Age

Widespread of of New Age beliefs and activities since 1980's.

Heelas - About 2,000 activities and 146,000 practicioners in the UK

- Most are loosely organised audience or client cults which are diverse and eclectic (putting unconnected ideas together in new combinations)

- Two common themes that characterise the New Age: 

Self Spirituality: New agers seeking the spiritual have turned away from traditional 'external' religions such as the churches and instead look inside themselves to find it.

Detraditionalisation: New Age rejects the spiritual authority of external traditional sources such as priests or sacred texts. Instead it values personal experience and believes that we can discover the truth for ourselves and within ourselves.

- New Age beliefs vary; include world-affirming aspects that help people achieve as well as world-rejecting elements that allow individuals to achieve enlightenment in their inner world.

Postmodernity and the New Age

Several explanations for the popularity of the New Age. 

John Drane - Its appeal is part of a shift towards postmodern society. One of the features of postmodern society is a loss of faith in meta-narratives or claims to have the 'truth'

- Science promised to bring progress to a better world however given us war, genocide, environmental destruction & Global warming instead

- They are also disillusioned with the churches' failure to meet their spiritual needs so they turn to the New Age idea that each of us can find the truth forourselves by looking within.

The New Age and Modernity

Bruce - Growth of the New Age is a feature of the latest phase of modern society, and not postmodernity

- Modern society values individualism, which is also a key principle of New Age beliefs (idea that each individual has the truth within themselves)

- Also particularly important value among those in the 'expressive proffesions' concerned with human potential, such as community workers or artists - the group to whom New Age appeals most.

- New Age eclectism or 'pick and mix spiritual shopping' as typical of religion in late modern society, reflecting the consumerist


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