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A Qualitative and Critical Religion Analysis of the Category of Spirituality within The Visible Recovery Advocacy Movement

Issue: Vol 22 No. 2 (2019) Religion, Spirituality and Addiction Recovery

Journal: Implicit Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/imre.40680


Critiques of the category "spirituality" argue that it functions to anesthetise affiliates to inequalities such as the suffering caused by capitalism. Furthermore, spirituality is regarded as both a superficial consequence of late-modernity and reifying the neoliberal agenda of an "individual" as narcissistic and morally responsible. While these critiques of spirituality are useful, they are totalising and only partially examine the complexities of such varied discourses. This article qualitatively examines the category of spirituality within the Visible Recovery Advocacy Movement (VRAM). Alongside "faithbased," "non-religious," and allegedly "secular" recovery modalities, many individuals and groups identifying within this movement utilise the language of spirituality. This article does not suggest that discourses on spirituality among people within the VRAM are immune to the tropes of neoliberalism, or that the formation of that category in contemporary usage, is not reliant upon specific cultural, economic, and political trends. Rather, I demonstrate that motivations among VRAM participants for engaging with this classification are far more complicated and dependant on a range of intersecting circumstances than critical evaluations acknowledge. Moreover, utilising study of religion and spirituality literature, I critically examine participants' construction of the category of spirituality, and what they report as the outworkings of that classification, especially in terms of addiction recovery, identity formation, making meaning, and community.

Author: Liam Metcalf-White

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