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The rising culture and worldview of contemporary spirituality: A sociological study of potentials and pitfalls for sustainable development


  • Hedlund-de Witt, Annick


Several social scientists claim that the rise of the culture of contemporary spirituality is a pivotal part of the gradual but profound change taking place in the Western worldview, both reflecting the larger cultural development, as well as giving shape and direction to it. Its emergence is therefore not to be neglected in attempts to create a more sustainable society. The aim of this study is to generate insight into the culture and worldview of contemporary spirituality and explore its potentials and pitfalls for sustainable development. An investigation of the sociological literature on the so-called "New Age" phenomenon results in a delineation and overview of these and shows that this culture is both a potentially promising force, as well as a phenomenon posing specific risks. A structural-developmental understanding is introduced in order to be able to distinguish between regressive and progressive tendencies in this culture, and comprehend the deeper logic behind the observed potentials and pitfalls. This may serve to facilitate the actualization of the culture's potentials while mitigating its pitfalls, and in that way contribute to the timely challenge of creating a more sustainable society.

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  • Hedlund-de Witt, Annick, 2011. "The rising culture and worldview of contemporary spirituality: A sociological study of potentials and pitfalls for sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(6), pages 1057-1065, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:6:p:1057-1065

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Hulme,Mike, 2009. "Why We Disagree about Climate Change," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521727327, March.
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    8. Dennis Soron, 2010. "Sustainability, self-identity and the sociology of consumption," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 172-181.
    9. Jeffrey Jacob & Emily Jovic & Merlin Brinkerhoff, 2009. "Personal and Planetary Well-being: Mindfulness Meditation, Pro-environmental Behavior and Personal Quality of Life in a Survey from the Social Justice and Ecological Sustainability Movement," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 93(2), pages 275-294, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hedlund-de Witt, Annick, 2012. "Exploring worldviews and their relationships to sustainable lifestyles: Towards a new conceptual and methodological approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 74-83.
    2. Gemma Burford & Elona Hoover & Ismael Velasco & Svatava Janoušková & Alicia Jimenez & Georgia Piggot & Dimity Podger & Marie K. Harder, 2013. "Bringing the “Missing Pillar” into Sustainable Development Goals: Towards Intersubjective Values-Based Indicators," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(7), pages 1-25, July.
    3. Ericson, Torgeir & Kjønstad, Bjørn Gunaketu & Barstad, Anders, 2014. "Mindfulness and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 73-79.


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