The Role of Popular Music in the Construction of Alternative Spiritual Identities and Ideologies


Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 45, Number 4, December 2006 , pp. 481-488(8)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Setting its discussion in the wider context of the decline of institutional religion among young adults, the rise of alternative spiritualities, and the mediatization of religion, the article explores the significance of popular music in the development of alternative spiritual identities and ideologies. A summary is given of leading research conducted in this field by Christopher Partridge and Graham St. John. It is argued that they demonstrate the encoding of alternative spiritual symbols and ideologies into certain forms of popular music, they fail to give an adequate account of how audiences actively make use of this music to construct alternative spiritual identities or frameworks of meaning. The article concludes that researchers in the field of religion and popular music need to draw more on theories and methods developed in ethno-musicology and the sociology of music, and suggests that the work of Tia De Nora on music in everyday life raises important questions about the qualities and context of the act of listening to music that could generate more nuanced accounts of how popular music shapes alternative spiritual identities and ideologies.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Gordon Lynch is Senior Lecturer in Religion and Culture at the University of Birmingham, UK, and the lead convenor of the UK Research Network for Theology, Religion and Popular Culture., Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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