Spiritual Identity outside Institutional Religion: A Phenomenological Exploration

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This study explores the essence and meaning of the lived experience of spirituality outside institutional religion among individuals who experienced spiritual change. Based on a phenomenological analysis of in-depth interviews conducted with 25 Israeli adults, 12 men and 13 women between the ages of 25 and 66 years (M = 45.3), the findings indicate that the developmental process experienced by the participants yielded the establishment of a new identity-a clear and committed spiritual identity different from the modern (e.g., identity statuses) and some of the postmodern (i.e., hyphenated or hybrid) customary conceptualizations of identity. Within this general sense of spiritual identity, three major themes were identified that can be seen as dialectic dimensions: (1) self-centeredness and authenticity together with self-dissolution and surrender, (2) "being there" together with becoming, and (3) alienation together with a sense of mission. The similarities and differences between this spiritual identity and other forms of identity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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