Studying the "New Age"
The study is partly inspired by the findings made in, for example, cognitive psychology and attachment theoretic research, which has shown that followers of the new spirituality at the group level not only share imagination but also certain personality traits that may be associated with an elevated and possibly even an underdiagnosed suffering (Granqvist, 2004). This study will examine the new spirituality from a psychoanalytic perspective. It could be close at hand to then try to find possible connections between, for example, childhood and upbringing experiences and the new interest. However, the focus of this study will be on the "here and now".
Researching the new age and the like is difficult. Where and with what criteria should respondents be recruited, if it is the thought system that should be in focus. On the one hand, it is possible to choose a functional perspective, that is, to seek people who practice what are perceived as "new-age" activities, such as meditation, yoga or healing, and hope that these then also include the special worldview that the researcher associates with such activities. However, this is far from always the case. Frisk och Åkerbäck (2013) has made a division into consumers and producers and stressed that the former do not always share the latter's worldview. I'm not sure they have one either, of course. Granqvist and Hagekull (2001) recruited people from typical New Age businesses and then tested them with their NAOS scale and were thus able to thin them out with a certain worldview.
There may also be a difference in conviction. Geels and Wikström (2006) propose a division into customers, searchers and core troops (p. 390f), the latter of which more closely embrace certain notions such as a well-thought-out worldview. Perhaps this can be likened to these individuals having a high degree of "staining" of the special system of thought? Månsus (1997) describes it in a similar way, but as a pyramid in three levels.
Another approach could be to select certain beliefs that are assumed to be central to the kind of world of thought that is of interest. In this study, the survey participants were recruited on the basis of the criterion that they would include the basic ideas of reincarnation, karma and the idea of the individual's gradual progression towards perfection. Persons who agree to this description are assumed to belong to both the "new age" and certain parts of the "new age".
What's it going to be called?
A variety of names are used to designate or differentiate between interested parties in this area. Wikström (1998) writes that the term "new age" is often perceived as burdensome by those who are labeled so. Sutcliffe (referenced in Chryssides, 2007) has expressed: "'New Age' is a construct – that is to say, a term created by outsiders to bring together artificially a number of disparate ideas that may not be linked by their exponents". Chryssides (2007, p. 13) makes a parallel to "Hinduism" which was a 19th-century Western concept for bringing together a variety of very different spiritual phenomena that focused on different deities, etc. The author also takes "feminism" as an example, which underneath sorts many different views and perceptions. She writes that such designations can be useful after all. Healthy (2007b, p. 119) proposes to start from scratch and, with statistical means, research the appropriate divisions of what today fit under the New Age and the like.
Originally, it was thought that the kind of spirituality that the study focuses on in the text would be called "new age/newness". By including the "new age", parts of "new age" could be excluded that may not include the basic ideas above (reincarnation, karma and the gradual perfection of the individual) and by including "newness", hopefully the experience-focused or atheoretic expressions of the "new age" could hopefully be removed. In this way, the two concepts were supposed to work mutually exclusively. (This design is included in the title of the thesis and was also used in the call to try to attract suitable respondents to the study. During the writing work, however, it became apparent that this designation would affect readability too much. Henceforth, therefore, "newness", "new spirituality", etc., will be used and the reader will be encouraged to translate this for his inner self to "new age/newness" (or more specifically "new age∩newness", with the mathematical symbol of "intersection" between the words, that is, what is meant is the area where the two types of spirituality overlap).
Perhaps it is possible to argue that the two words are still losing a great deal of usefulness or precision. Supporters themselves do not want to be associated with the "new age" and the term is now mostly used by researchers or in daily speech and then with a derogatory meaning, society itself also seems to be becoming increasingly "new age-igt" and "the new-age movements" are about to die out (Frisk, 2007a). However, the concept of "neo-religion" (Frisk, 1998) as an umbrella term for many of the things that fall outside the established forms of religion feels well-found.