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Contemporary interest in spirituality is on the rise, including the growth of scholarly attention to the “spiritual but not religious,” popular interest in yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices, and positive appraisals of the connection between spirituality and wellbeing. In the background is the widespread view (in the modern West) that religion and spirituality are distinct and separable, that institutional religion is being supplanted by individuated spirituality, and that spirituality may be best conceived through a predominantly psychological or therapeutic lens.

Our conference seeks to challenge and expand facets of this widespread view. It brings together analyses of contemporary spirituality that examine the social factors that shape the understanding and experience of spirituality in both scholarship and everyday life.

The conference has three organizing themes: cutting-edge work that advances theory and method in conceptualizing the social dimensions of spirituality; international and interreligious comparisons that demonstrate how factors such as national context, religious traditions, and secularism shape spirituality; and examinations of spirituality in public life that explore how spirituality is shaped by political, cultural, legal, and economic factors. Most broadly, we will highlight the ways in which spirituality is eminently social.


Conference Participants

April 5-7 2019


Afe Adogame Religion and Society, Princeton Theological Seminary

Nancy Ammerman Sociology, Boston University

Stef Aupers Communications, KU Leuven

Robert Brenneman Sociology, Saint Michaels College

Candy Brown Religious Studies, Indiana University

Wendy Cadge Sociology, Brandeis University

Lynn Davidman  Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University

Amali Ibrahim Religious Studies, Indiana University

Andrea Jain Religious Studies, IUPUI

Jaime Kucinskas Sociology, Hamilton College

Michal Pagis Sociology and Anthropology, Bar-llan University

Alyssa Rockenbach Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development, NC State University

Jason Shelton Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas-Arlington

Brian Steensland Sociology, IUPUI

Anna Sun Sociology, Kenyon College

Ann Swidler SociologyUniversity of California-Berkeley

Melissa Wilcox Religious Studies, California Riverside

Linda Woodhead Politics, Philosophy, and Religion, Lancaster University

Brad Wright Sociology, University of Connecticut