Alternative Spirituality among Global Scientists

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Taylor & Francis


Scholars, especially those in the West, often attribute the construction of alternative spirituality to a culture of individualism. Here, we explore how non-religious scientists construct spirituality in different national contexts, focusing on academic physicists and biologists. Two research questions guide our analyses: How do scientists construct an alternative spirituality and to what extent are their constructions conditioned by the contexts in which they live and work? We rely on surveys of 6,470 scientists in four national/regional contexts and on interviews with 65 self-identified spiritual but not-religious scientists. Our findings reveal that alternative spirituality is more prevalent among scientists in Taiwan and France than in the UK and the US. Second, we find that the construction of spirituality redefines the cultural meanings bundled with religion in these respective contexts. Our research helps to explain how the construction of spirituality is changing the face of religion in different societal contexts.