Hyper-real religions: Fear, anxiety and late-modern religious innovation

Submitted by James Miller on Thu, 01/05/2012 - 13:36
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TitleHyper-real religions: Fear, anxiety and late-modern religious innovation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsPossamai, A., & Lee M.
JournalJournal of Sociology
Volume47
Issue3
Pagination227-242
ISBN Number1440-7833
KeywordsAnxieties, ANXIETY, FAITH, FEAR, hyper-reality, Innovations, Polls &amp, popular culture, Religion, RELIGIOUS aspects, spirituality, Surveys
Abstract

Census data from 2006 identified 133,800 Australians as being of ‘inadequately described religion’. This aggregated category conceals the exponential growth of innovative late-modern religious faiths. For example, leaked 2001 Census data suggests that some 71,000 Australians identified Jediism, as appropriated from the Star Wars films, as their faith. For most respondents to the Census this was no doubt an ironic late-modern play with the Census process as a response to an internet-based meme. However, evidence does suggest that a significant minority of respondents take the religion seriously. Such innovative faiths have raised the ire of some traditional religious practitioners who have responded with expressions of fear and anxiety. From a sociological perspective, this article examines the growth in innovative faiths and the backlash against them, and reports the results of a survey of university staff and students on the topic.