The problem of capitalism in the scholarship on contemporary spirituality


  • Teemu Taira University of Leeds


Capitalism, Spirituality, Ideology, Methodology, Consumption (Economics), Self-culture, Individualism, New Age movement, Globalization


Capitalism has been a rare theme in the scholarship on spirituality. However, some very interesting attempts to think spirituality in relation to capitalism have been made. The focus in this article is on four examples: Kimberly Lau, Jeremy Carrette and Richard King, Slavoj Žižek and Gordon Lynch. This list of scholars is not exhaustive, but these have been chosen on the basis that their works have contributed to recent discussion and that the author have found them stimulating. All the chosen scholars are critical of contemporary capitalism. Lynch understands spirituality to be progressive and an anti-capitalist ideology, while all the others deem contemporary spirituality to be somehow capitalist in contributing to its ideology, practice and consumerist ethos. By describing and analysing these positions, the author argues that although the scholarly works have been strong in either describing the spiritual practices or theorising capitalism, these two dimensions have been fairly distinct. Therefore, there is still space for scholarship which could connect detailed empirical descriptions with theories of capitalism.



How to Cite

Taira, T. (2009). The problem of capitalism in the scholarship on contemporary spirituality. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 21, 230–244.