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Some Recent Trends in the Study of Religion and Youth



    Corresponding author
    1. University of Sydney
      Carole M. Cusack is Associate Professor of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney.
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This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 35, Issue 4, 626, Article first published online: 4 December 2011

Carole M. Cusack is Associate Professor of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney.


From the beginning of the twenty-first century there has been a sharp increase in research on the ways in which young people engage with religion and spirituality. Three trends are apparent: first, there has been a shift away from focusing on the formal processes of young people's religious socialisation and a realisation that youth exercise considerable agency in their construction of personal and group identities; second, the 1970s and 1980s assumption that religion was in decline in developed countries and was of little interest to young adults has been challenged by the growth of trans-national religions including Pentecostal Christianity, and by the emergence of a myriad spiritualities and identity-conferring subcultural groups including Paganism, Satanism, Goth culture and vampirism; and third, there is an increased acceptance that youth is less a uniform stage that all human beings undergo, and is more intimately connected to the specific historical, geographical, economic, and social context in which it is experienced. This article reviews four recent publications on religion, spirituality and youth, three of which are from Australia. The fourth volume is an international edited collection containing studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, and a small number of European countries.

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