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Psychology of Religion

by Jacob A. Belzen

In the past four decades or so, the so-called psychology of religion - after having been deemed extinct, impossible or unlikely - has risen to prominence again: the number of publications is rapidly growing, an impressive secondary literature (handbooks, introductions, etc.) is available already, infrastructure has been developed (a number of new journals devoted to the subject have been founded, organizations have been established, increasingly funding is going to the area), attracting many new researchers. Organizations like the American Psychological Association are now publishing in the field of psychology of religion (and its Div. 36 ["psych of rel"] with almost 3,000 members is already midsized among the APA-divisions). This book documents this re-emergence and development.

Towards Cultural Psychology of Religion

by Jacob A. Belzen

This book takes a bold stand: all psychology should be culturally sensitive psychology, especially when studying religious phenomena. It explains that culture is not simply to be conceived of as a variable that possibly influences behavior. Rather, it stresses that cultural patterns of acting, thinking and experiencing are created, adopted and promulgated by a number of individuals jointly. As human subjectivity is different in different cultures, cultural psychology is not interested in comparatively investigating how experiences and behavior, attitudes and social relationships present themselves within different cultural conditions. By consequence, cultural psychology does not start from Western psychological constructs, testing for their presence in other cultures, but from human acts and activities in specific cultures, analyzing them in a hermeneutical way. Like cultural psychology, psychology of religion currently enjoys more and more interest and rapid growth. But the two fields have remained rather unconnected in the recent past. Psychological research on religion has been pursued from a number of perspectives, among which a cultural psychological one has not yet become prominent. As religions, however conceptualized, are cultural entities of major importance, cultural psychology seems a natural ally to research on religion. Containing a number of studies, both theoretical and empirical, this volume takes a step towards a rapprochement of cultural psychology and psychology of religion.

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