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Title: Buying a balance : the 'individual-collective' and the commercial new age practices of yoga and Sufi dance
Author: Shaw, Charlotte
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The individual's experience of inner authority takes centre stage in the majority of scholarship on New Ageism, with many writers highlighting this theme as a defnitive characteristic of the spiritual culture. The aim of this thesis is to explore this topic and to ascertain the place of the individual and the collective within two commercial New Age feld sites in London. The qualitative data which lead this investigation were collected from a yoga centre called Shanti and a Suf dance organisation called the Suf Order. From this data, the thesis identifes an individual-collective dialectic, one which manifests in particular forms and with divergent orientations; the result is a multiplicity of types of individualisms which include collective forces. The study makes the case for this argument by focusing on four modes in which, at both sites, the individual and the collective co-produce each other. One, the (collective) class culture of the practitioners informs and is informed by the (individual) ideologies of self that the informants assert. Two, the (collective) capitalist context of the organisations infuence and are perpetuated by the ways the (individual) representatives of those organisations express themselves. Three, (collective) shared principles regarding 'positivity' and 'energy' enforce and are sustained by the (individual) feelings of the student. Four, the (collective) communities of practitioners depend on and contribute to the (individual) set apart status of the teacher. These four manifestations of the individual-collective dynamic appear with different orientations in each feld context; in all versions and in both settings, individual and collective are both present and mutually- constituting forces, but at Shanti the dialectics lean more towards the personal and at the Suf Order, the 'same' dialectics lean more towards the social. Each organisation refects and adds to the intersections, both in their forms and their orientations. In so doing, the two New Age centres present divergent balances of the individual-collective dynamic that correlate with the personal and social dispositions of their respective student bodies.
Supervisor: Hausner, Sondra Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology and Religion ; Modern spiritual movements ; Anthropology ; Ethnographic practices ; Visual and material anthropology ; New Age ; Spirituality ; Individual ; Collective ; Yoga ; Sufi ; dance ; practice ; commercialisation ; commodification ; individualism ; collectivism ; Sufism