Ideology and the Opiate of the Bourgeoisie
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Big IdeasNew Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network August 4, 2015 Kristian Petersen
Whether you need help being more focused at work, are having a spiritual crisis, or want to understand how you can change your inner self for the better, the popular self-help and spiritual well-being market has got you covered. In Capitalizing Religion: Ideology and the Opiate of the Bourgeoisie (Bloomsbury, 2014), Craig Martin, Associate Professor of Religious Studies St. Thomas Aquinas College, examines the rhetoric of individualism at root in these works and popular conceptions of ‘spirituality’ or individual religion. He demonstrates that individual religion has been placed within sets of dichotomies, communal vs. individual, tradition vs. choice, organized religion vs. spirituality, that establish the continuing conversations about contemporary spirituality. Overall, he argues that many spirituality and related self-help discourses recommend quietism, consumerism, and worker productivity, which reproduce the status quo within neoliberal capitalism. In our conversation we discuss the relationship between individuals and communities, the role of human agency, experience, ideology, contemporary fiction, Durkheim, William James, Karl Marx, Louis Althusser, and the joys of reading Deepak Chopra.