Article Title

Steps Toward a Sociology of Religious Experience: The Theories of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Alfred Schutz

Department/School

Sociology and Anthropology

Abstract

Sociologists of religion, in their concern for the social effects of religious institutions and the functions of religious meaning systems for people's identities, have neglected to study religious experiences. This paper explores Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theory of flow experiences and Alfred Schutz's theory of the tuning-in relationship as possible approaches to studying the experiential dimension of religion. Csikszentmihalyi's notion of “the flow experience,” while ultimately reductionist, focuses on the nonconceptual side of autotelic activities. Schutz's analysis of musical performance elucidates the preconceptual sociality of all experiences shared in inner time. We suggest that both theories offer conceptual tools that can be applied to religious experiences. Taken together they suggest an approach for sociologists attempting to explore this hitherto neglected domain.

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Sociology of Religion

Publication Date

1990

Volume

51

Issue

1

Pages

15-33

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.2307/3711338

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS