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Soul SearchingThe Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers$
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Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195180954

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019518095X.001.0001

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American Adolescent Religion in Social Context

American Adolescent Religion in Social Context

(p.172) 5 American Adolescent Religion in Social Context
Soul Searching

Christian Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Melinda Lundquist Denton

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores some of the major social forces and factors that shape the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. It is argued that understanding the religion and spirituality of contemporary American adolescents means framing that understanding within the larger social and institutional contexts of therapeutic individualism, mass-consumer capitalism, the digital communication revolution, residual positivism and empiricism, the structural disconnect of teenagers from the world of adults, the problems of adults, and other relevant cultural contradictions that may affect the religious and spiritual lives of contemporary youth. This is not because youth are normally consciously aware of or articulate about these big-picture social influences, but because these larger contexts are objective, structural, institutional, and cultural realities that powerfully form youth’s lives.

Keywords:   American teenagers, teens, adolescents, religion, society, social forces, spirituality

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