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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sociologists study meditation as a social phenomenon, utilizing the contemporary practice of meditation as a window to larger questions about social life and organization in the contemporary world. This chapter illustrates how meditation serves as a new institution and social sphere that balances the “secular” and the “mystical” as well as “being together” and “being alone.” It embraces rising individualization and secularization, yet it is based on collective, joint circles where affective effervescence is produced and where people search for experiences that can be categorized as mystical, transformative, or therapeutic. The studies introduced in this chapter focus on three themes: meditation practice as a religious and spiritual phenomenon embedded in the contemporary world with its themes of individualization, secularization, and religious syncretism; the popularization of meditation as a social movement in a globalized world; and the micro-social world of meditation practice, focusing on social relations and the social self.

Keywords: sociology, spirituality, social movement, individualization, secularization, social institutions, social self

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