An anthropology of the 'New Age' : with special reference to Glastonbury, Somerset
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This thesis is an anthropological study of the New Age movement, in the area of Glastonbury, Somerset, England. It is based upon one year's participant observation in Glastonbury from October 1989 to November 1990. The thesis looks at the philosophy of living which these people, referred to as 'New Agers', have adopted, and which they believe to present an alternative to the values of mainstream Western society. I examine how they combine their ideas with the pressures of living as a sub-culture within British society. I begin this thesis by posing the question, what is the New Age?' In doing so 1 raise questions about the classification of groups, notions of community, and the boundary of the group. Introducing my ethnographic example of the New Age movement in Glastonbury, I attempt to provide a backdrop in the context of locality. I then proceed to present the ethnography under the themes of holism and individualism. The analytical commentary that follows the ethnography discusses individualism and holism with reference to Louis Dumont's work. In contrast to Dumont I present the two ideas as a complement rather than mutually exclusive. I conclude by looking at the New Age movement within the wider historical context of Utopian groups.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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