Diverse Differences of Youth Spirituality Between Unchurched Believers and Liminals in Korea

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Han NAHYUN, University of Sogang, South Korea
Seil OH, Sogang University, South Korea
How do youth and young adults construct and practice the meaning of life in the post-modern life-world? The privatization of religion (Luckmann, 1967) has accelerated today’s religious discourses on spirituality on which scholars do not have a consensus but emphasize its social characteristics such as autonomy, experience, authenticity, self-fulfillment, etc.  There appear more and more blurred boundaries between religionness and non-believers in the religiously pluralist society; however, less has been researched about the different types of spirituality between "unchurched believers" and "liminals" (Lim, MacGregor, Putnam, 2010).

For this task, our reseearch team interviewed 30 college students for five months in Seoul, Korea. They can be classified as “unchurced believers” or “liminals”. Data analyses resulted in various codes regarding the types of individual belief or spirituality of 'unchurched believers:' religious spirituality (Christian or Buddhist), alternative spirituality (e.g., New Age, holistic practices, fortune-telling, healing programs, etc.), the immanent frames (e.g., scientism, materialism, post-materialism, etc.).  Our findings suggest that the types of authenticity should be systematically analyzed in accordance with its social implications: emotive authenticity or reflexive authenticity. Also, autonomy as the core concept of spiritual individualism, needs to be empirically categorized as anomic egoism, transitory individuation, or responsible autonomy.   

In addition, both unchurched believers and liminals showed the high degree of antipathy against the external authority of institutional churches. However, there are clear differnces: whereas the unchurched believers, especially holistic practitioners show more post-material interest like well-being or holistic health than liminals, liminals may show less interest in spirituality than churched believers. For liminals, the ultimate significance of life or the ways of pursuing happiness tend to go toward consumptive gratification or material goal-attainment in the immanent frames.