I’ve just finished reading “Sociology of Religion for Generations X and Y”, published in 2009 by Adam Possamai, Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Western Sydney. I was keen to have a look through for two reasons. Most of the sociologists of religion I’ve read so far are Baby Boomers. And most are based in the US. Adam was born in 1970 and writes with a style consistent with his generation’s approach to communication. He reveals something of his own life experience and perspectives to the reader before outlining the insights gained from sociologists since the time of Marx, Durkheim and Weber. Popular culture is referred to throughout the book, both in terms of its significance for sociology of religion, and also as a way of engaging Gen X and Gen Y readers. Topics such as religion and popular culture, modernity, spirituality, postmodernity, esotericism and fundamentalism are introduced with references to Sin City, Harry Potter, Apocalypse Now, Pan’s Labyrinth, Xena: Warrior Princess, The Mummy and American Dreamz. Raised a Catholic in Belgium, Adam moved to Australia to complete doctoral studies in sociology. Adam consistently refers to Australian case studies across the world.
Adam begins by suggesting that Gen X and Y are two cohorts of the same generation, with slightly different takes on the world. He refers to the “Post-1970 Generation” classification made in 2006 by Australian sociologists Dan Woodman and Johanna Wyn in Youth Studies, where they argued that it was too early to distinguish a distinct shift in life priorities in the emerging group of twenty somethings. Adam points to the centrality of popular culture for Gen X and Gen Y, and points to ways in which emerging forms of religion have been connected with religious inspiration.
Early forms of sociology of religion were connected with observations of the decline of influence held by Christian institutions in Western Europe. Adam draws on more recent work done on the emergence of new forms of religion in a post-secularist age, referring to Scientology, Neo-Paganism, Jediknightism, Matrixism. Fundamentalist movements in Christianity, Islam and Judaism are used as case studies in the danger of over-generalisation. Buddhism, its Westernisation and its role in the Easternisation of the West, is used as a case study in contextualisation. Of particular interest is the final section on new religious movements.
Other books by Adam include Legal Pluralism and Shari’a Law (Co-Edited July 2013), Religious Change and Indigenous Peoples: The Making of Religious Identities (Vitality of Indigenous Religions) (Co-Authored September 2013), and Religion and Popular Culture (Gods, Humans, and Religions) (2007)