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Re-Enchanting the Social: Identity Transformation, Embodiment, and Prefigurative Religious Practices in New Spirituality Culture

Cuda, John (2018) Re-Enchanting the Social: Identity Transformation, Embodiment, and Prefigurative Religious Practices in New Spirituality Culture. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study explores contemporary and alternative forms of religion active in the Pittsburgh area. Otherwise known as New Age and neopagan, new spiritualities are a domain of religiosity marked by individualism, multiculturalism, and idiosyncratic experimentation with identity that is both subjectively oriented, yet communalistic. Under investigation are the rituals and material culture of study participants, which includes examining the physical manifestations of what are often internal, invisible, and subjective processes. Chapter themes include ritual and structure, commodification and healing, psychonautics and re-enchantment, all of which are defined and discussed via participant comments. Understanding processes of meaning-making, and how beliefs work within these subcultures, is enabled in part through an examination of spirituality texts and discourses. Included therefore is an analysis of such texts, in which the story of modern seekership is interpreted and contextualized, but additionally through the medium of such popular collective myths as Alice in Wonderland and The Matrix. Some questions include, what are the social structures of new spiritualities? What kinds of communities exist to house them? How do norms operate, and what sorts of power dynamics govern such cultural spaces? What are the common goals of individuals who follow new spiritualities? What kinds of embodied experiences define them? How are relationships conducted? What is the role of gender? How is sexuality conceived of? And how does this form of religiosity reproduce itself? Answering these questions partly involves contrasting new spiritualities with traditional religions and normative society. New spirituality is a way of life, and a world view. It is an approach to living that is guided by particular values, beliefs, and practices, all of which shape members’ orientation to among other things healthcare, diet, technology, and the environment.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Cuda, Johnjrc87@pitt.edujrc87
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBamyeh, Mohammedmab205@pitt.edumab205
Committee MemberStaggenborg, Suzannesuzstagg@pitt.edusuzstagg
Committee MemberStrathern, Andrewstrather@pitt.edustrather
Committee MemberDuck, Waverlywod1@pitt.eduwod1
Date: 30 January 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 November 2017
Approval Date: 30 January 2018
Submission Date: 4 December 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 366
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: spirituality, alternative, religion, neopagan, new age, sociology, ritual, mythology
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2018 18:35
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2018 18:35


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