A Sociocultural Psychological Approach to Religion.


Institute of Psychology and Education, University of Neuchâtel, FLSH - Espace Louis Agassiz 1, 2000, Neuchâtel, CH, Switzerland. [Email]


Sociocultural psychology can contribute to the understanding of religion, as it examines the dynamics by which the social and cultural world creates the conditions for the lives of unique people. This approach focuses especially on semiotic dynamics, by which religion can both guide practices and sense-making, but also become an object of shared representations. Drawing on a series of past studies, I first adopt an ontogenetic perspective, to explore early development into a sociocultural environment in which religion is present, and then to address young adults' religious bricolage. I especially show people's creativity in using various symbolic resources, linked to religious elements or not. Second, I consider more sociogenetic dynamics: boundary making processes taking place in intergroup dynamics. This leads me, third, to consider the resonances between social discourses on religion and more subjective experiences: I especially show how public discourses may create confusing fields of meaning which find deep resonances in emotional experiences, which may have dramatic consequences, both at the individual and collective levels. For each point, I try to show how such this theoretical perspective and empirical evidence may illuminate contemporary issues and debates.


Boundary dynamics,Religion,Sociocultural psychology,Symbolic resources,