How to understand what happened?
Émile Durkheim already spoke prophetically of a future society so heterogeneous that the only thing that ultimately unites citizens is the fact that everyone perceives themselves and everyone else as autonomous individuals. According to Hammer (2004), Durkheim stated that religious practitioners will "set up the principle of being true to oneself as the core of religion." 313). Houtman and Aupers (2007) argue that religiosity has changed in character:
What we are witnessing today is not so much a disappearance of religion, but rather a relocation of the sacred. Gradually losing its transcendent character, the sacred becomes more and more conceived of as immanent and residing in the deeper layers of the self (Houtman &Aupers, 2007, p. 315).
Farias and Lalljee (2005) have formulated the term "holististic individualism" for some findings in their research. They argue that something like this also characterizes many who are not specifically interested in the new spirituality:
The construct of holistic individualism has been identified in relation to the New Age but it is plausible to find it applied elsewhere. An obvious example is the growing interest in spirituality within modern societies, a concept that overlaps in many ways with New Age ideas in the way it emphasizes non-ordinary experiences at the individual level and distances itself from communal forms of religion. It may be the case that holistic individualism is a social-cultural phenomenon of which the New Age is merely a precursor" (Farias &lalljee, 2005, p. 288).
Kärfve (1998) writes that "The New Age interprets something essential in late modern society and will consequently stay as long as this persists" (p. 28). Frisk (2000) refers to the American religious scholar James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton, who expressed that they see the new age as "an integral part of a new, truly pluralistic 'mainstream'" (p.