New Age: A Modus of Hegemony

In Mark Losoncz, Igor Krtolica & Aleksandar Matković (eds.), Thinking beyond capitalism, conference proceedings. Belgrade, Serbia: Institute for philosophy and social theory. pp. 175-198 (2016)
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To understand fully the contemporary imposition of capitalist class power, we need to consider not only social relations and neoliberal economic doctrines, but also academic and vernacular cultural contexts, including social critique, within which neoliberalism has been ideologically tailored and practically applied. Among the vernacular cultural contexts, religion – related to deepest human identifications, feelings and ideas about the nature of reality – certainly represents such an unavoidable political resource, inseparable from secular ideologies of a given social world. Taking this into account, we will try to show how neoliberalism was built in a specific context, developing governmental approaches relative to elements of progressive critique, and has eventually succeeded to legitimize new mechanisms of capitalist accumulation, linking them, among other things, to specific religious “externalities”. We will suggest that the satisfactory explanation of profound changes in the contemporary religious life, referred to as the emergence of “New Age spirituality”, is only possible if we understand them as an integral part of the processes of neoliberalization. This does not mean that we are trying to reduce a complex multitude of contemporary spiritual practices to a simple one-dimensional reflex of neoliberalization, but rather to suggest that only such an approach can complement the omissions and correct the misconceptions of various inquiries that analyze New Age spirituality using the frameworks of postmodern culture and/or consumer society. By doing this, we wil discuss not only countercultural spirituality, but also neoliberal social epistemology and different critical aproaches to understanding it.
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