Within the sociology of religion there has emerged a discourse on spirituality that views contemporary developments as involving the assertion of individuals’ self-authority. This perspective’s theoretical roots have been persistently criticised for their conceptualisation of agency; in contrast, this paper draws upon Bourdieu’s concept of strategy to examine action in an English religious network of the sort often classified ‘New Age’. In particular, one informant is discussed in order to provide focus for an understanding of what Lahire calls sociology at the level of the individual. Her actions, better explained as strategic improvisations than as choices made on the basis of self-authority, help to illuminate the peculiarities of this religious setting, which is characterised in terms of ‘nonformativeness’. By emphasising social contextualisation, this approach addresses people’s meaningful actions in a way that may be applied not only more widely within the religious field but also in other fields of action.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science