A New Perspective on Youth and Religion: A Qualitative Understanding
Strauss, Jessica S.
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This thesis seeks to reexamine both the meaning of religion and the way in which it is studied sociologically, using the religious experience of youth in 21st century America as a point of reference for the changing nature of religion. The thesis first examines the relevance of individualism, modernity, and secularization in the discourse of the sociology of religion. After this conceptual overview there is a qualitative account of youth practices of Christianity and Christian spirituality, followed by a discussion of the changing nature of spirituality. An in depth examination of current sociological theories regarding religion is followed by the central thesis. Here I posit that it is only in following a new model that the sociology of religion can change alongside religion itself. I propose that this model be based on the framework of Ralph Turner, in which he defines individuals as institutionals or impulsives. And finally, in light of this model, there is an examination of some of the problems found in current sociological discourse; mainly their exclusive focus on the institution.