Journal Article

Who Buys New Age Materials? Exploring Sociodemographic, Religious, Network, and Contextual Correlates of New Age Consumption

Daniel P. Mears and Christopher G. Ellison

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 61, issue 3, pages 289-313
Published in print January 2000 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2000 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712580
Who Buys New Age Materials? Exploring Sociodemographic, Religious, Network, and Contextual Correlates of New Age Consumption

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Despite the growing interest in New Age spirituality, few studies have explored the correlates of participation in New Age groups or activities. Drawing from previous work on New Age phenomena, and from other established traditions in the sociology of religion, we outline a set of hypotheses linking the consumption of New Age materials with four sets of factors: (a) sociodemographic characteristics; (b) conventional religious affiliation and participation; (c) embeddedness within networks of New Age believers and consumers; and (d) community religious context. We then test these hypotheses using data from a recent telephone survey of Texas residents. Few of the expectations are supported. Indeed, among Texans the purchase of New Age materials is more common and more evenly distributed across social space than previously suspected. By far the strongest predictor of such consumption is embeddedness within interpersonal networks composed of other New Age devotees. We conclude by identifying a number of promising directions for future theoretical and empirical work on New Age phenomena.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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