"The Massive Subjective Turn:" Sociological Perspectives of Spirituality

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Dennis Hiebert

Abstract

The rapid rise in the number of persons who identify as “spiritual but not religious” is one manifestation of what Charles Taylor described as “the massive subjective turn of modern culture.” However, due to its elusive character, sociology has struggled to define spirituality as it is claimed and practiced both inside and outside religious traditions. Empirical research, such as the famous Kendal project, nevertheless shows a pronounced turn away from religiosity toward spirituality. Sociological theories of cultural change provided by religious outsiders help explain that turn at the macro level, while contrasting Christian evaluations provided by religious insiders offer perspectives of what it signifies about Christian faith.

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