Sacralisation of the popular. Methodological approaches to religion-like phenomena in contemporary religious studies

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The paper is devoted to a topical subject for contemporary religious studies - sacralisation of the profane, particularly manifested in the sacralization of popular culture products. These processes can be described as religion-like phenomena, and their understanding is important for the adequate perception of the Western religion of the XXI century. The purpose of this paper is to present possible interpretations of the religion-like phenomena proposed in contemporary religious studies, so the objects included considering concepts that describe the peculiarities and key features of contemporary Western religiosity and the debate about secularization and post-secularism, as well as analyzing the main methodological approaches to the religion-like phenomena study. The paper shows that some of these approaches remain within the framework of theology, while others are methodologically based on postmodern philosophy or cognitive studies and evolutionary psychology. It is proposed that although cognitive methodology is well applicable to the study of religion-like phenomena, a complete rejection of its functionalist interpretation appears to be wrong as religion-like phenomena perform a number of important functions generally inherent of religion. The conclusions are supported by illustrative material first of all provided by musical variants of religion-like phenomena as they appear to illustrate most clearly the features of such phenomena. A cognitive theory of narrative proposed by L. Rue turns out to be productive when analyzing music religion-like phenomena along with various psychological concepts, exploring the celebrities worship syndrome (CWS), as well as purely physiological approaches, based on studying the effects of music on hormones production and the impact of the latter on individuals and groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalVestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo Universiteta, Filosofiia i Konfliktologiia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Popular culture
  • Religion
  • Religion-like phenomena
  • Secularization

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