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Spiritual Progression in Economic Recession? Session 4: Final discussion and summary

17 March 11

the Centre for Faiths and Public Policy, University of Chester, 17th March 2011

Listen or download the podcast of the discussion here.

Following the “Think Pieces” [section 3] delivered by Peter Gilbert, Anna Thompson, Giselle Vincett and John Devine, conference participants spent some time in discussion in small groups. They then offered their comments and questioned the speakers in a session chaired by Rana Jawad of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent.

Linda Woodhead summary

Listen or download the podcast of Linda's summary here.

Listen to further podcasts of Linda discussing the Religion and Society Programme from here.

Linda Woodhead, Director of the Religion and Society Programme, concluded the conference with some reflections on the issues raised during the day. She spoke first of the contradictory visions held within religions: first, religion keeping to itself, separate from the state, and realising its own specific goals, and secondly a form of religion [declining numerically] which engaged with social issues.

She went on to speak of the values held by the founders of the welfare state, illustrated concretely by the centre of Cumbernauld New Town. It was a world in which experts knew best, and was strongly paternalistic. This had now largely been replaced by a world in which personal freedoms were paramount. We should not look back to a recreation of the welfare state, because it had itself damaged many valuable skills and resources within the community.

“Today’s spirituality is a very broad, diverse, contradictory mixed economy … and that means we need to re-think.”

She illustrated the observations by reference to her own study of Kendal in Cumbria in 2002, which had revealed over a hundred practitioners of some kind of alternative healing, working holistically. Many were women, who had fled (is this too strong a word - perhaps ‘moved away from’ either the NHS or the churches, to offer services which met needs the churches and health service often failed to address. She cited too another survey of woman entrepreneurs, for whom work and spirituality were completely entwined. It indicated a growing area for study: religion and politics was giving way to religion and the market.

Report and podcasts compiled by Norman Winter. Recordings of the conference sessions are substantially complete, but may have been edited in small ways for technical and other reasons.

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