New Age: konsumtionsvara eller värden att kämpa för? - Hemmets Journal och Idagsidan i Svenska Dagbladet analyserade utifrån Mary Douglas grid/group-modell och Pierre Bourdieus fältteori

Sammanfattning: This dissertation is focused on the differences that can be observed in New Age material published between 1974 and 1995 in two different Swedish publications, one weekly magazine and one national morning paper. It is shown that the main parts of the readers of these two publications are polarised according to socio-economic status. I start from an assumption that the material I have analysed embodies worldviews, which correspond to the worldviews of at least part of the two groups of readers. My point of departure in the analysis of the material is that there is a causal and dialectical relationship between people’s social conditions and their ways of thinking. Mary Douglas’ grid/group-model is the primary theoretical basis for my analysis. I distinguish four different contexts in this model: the context of the market, the context of powerlessness, the context of the hierarchies and the context of dissociation. In Swedish society between 1975 and 1995 one can discern two major movements from one context to another: a movement from the context of the hierarchies to the context of the market and another movement from the context of hierarchies to the context of powerlessness. Douglas’ model explains how individual people’s social experiences within the particular contexts determine what worldviews they find attractive. Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory demonstrate how members of the new middle class act with the intention to transform the predominant values within certain societal sectors in order to increase their own symbolic capital. That is: this theory of Bourdieu’s helps us to understand how man’s thinking can affect his social conditions. It becomes evident from my analysis of the material selected from the two publications that they give voice to two different worldviews and consequently also present two sharply divided aspects of New Age. One aspect in which the individual is regarded as a passive being ruled by external powers which he/she cannot control and another in which the individual is seen as an active human being who has an inward strength capable of controlling his/her own life. I exclude the label New Age from the former and instead I would rather use the term “popular beliefs”. The main conclusion of the discussions in my thesis is that the New Age material in the weekly magazine can be regarded as something to consume by those who live in or near the context of powerlessness. The New Age material in the national morning paper caters in a similar way for people who live in or near the context of the market. In addition this latter group can use these particular New Age views as means in their fight against dominating ideas within the field where they live and work.

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