Cover image for Spiritual marketplace : baby boomers and the remaking of American religion
Spiritual marketplace : baby boomers and the remaking of American religion
Roof, Wade Clark.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 367 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1510 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL2525 .R654 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In large chain bookstores the "religion" section is gone and in its place is an expanding number of topics including angels, Sufism, journey, recovery, meditation, magic, inspiration, Judaica, astrology, gurus, Bible, prophesy, evangelicalism, Mary, Buddhism, Catholicism, and esoterica. As Wade Clark Roof notes, such changes over the last two decades reflect a shift away from religion as traditionally understood to more diverse and creative approaches. But what does this splintering of the religious perspective say about Americans? Have we become more interested in spiritual concerns or have we become lost among trends? Do we value personal spirituality over traditional religion and no longer see ourselves united in a larger community of faith? Roof first credited this religious diversity to the baby boomers in his bestselling A Generation of Seekers (1993). He returns to interview many of these people, now in mid-life, to reveal a generation with a unique set of spiritual values--a generation that has altered our historic interpretations of religious beliefs, practices, and symbols, and perhaps even our understanding of the sacred itself.

The quest culture created by the baby boomers has generated a "marketplace" of new spiritual beliefs and practices and of revisited traditions. As Roof shows, some Americans are exploring faiths and spiritual disciplines for the first time; others are rediscovering their lost traditions; others are drawn to small groups and alternative communities; and still others create their own mix of values and metaphysical beliefs. Spiritual Marketplace charts the emergence of five subcultures: dogmatists, born-again Christians, mainstream believers, metaphysical believers and seekers, and secularists. Drawing on surveys and in-depth interviews for over a decade, Roof reports on the religious and spiritual styles, family patterns, and moral vision and values for each of these subcultures. The result is an innovative, engaging approach to understanding how religious life is being reshaped as we move into the next century.

Author Notes

Wade Clark Roof is the J. F. Rowny Professor of Religion and Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This sociological study tackles the same subject matter (baby boomers and their self-styled spiritual quests) as Roof's 1993 book, A Generation of Seekers. Roof organizes the book almost identically, using the same methodology (a mix of comprehensive surveys and in-depth personal interviews), and even interviewing the same research subjects about their developing spirituality. Yet the second time proves to be the charm, because this book does nearly everything better than its predecessor. Where Generation recognized boomers' predilection for "spirituality" over organized religion, here Roof acknowledges the proliferation of multiple, complex spiritualities (feminist, Latino, ecological, etc.) that often overlap with various established religious traditions and therapeutic movements. Roof's contextualization of boomer spirituality is more historically nuanced. He notes that it is ironic that many boomers are now turning aside from individualistic self-fulfillment strategies, since the boomer generation first empowered the self, not the community, to direct spiritual life. This book shows not only how the 76 million boomers have been shaped by such seeking but how they have remapped the spiritual landscape for all Americans; boomers have shifted attention from the institution to the individual, emphasized "lived religion" (religion in practice) and created a "quest culture." Scholars may quibble with Roof's free use of the marketplace metaphor, with its oversimplified emphasis on supply and demand and the "range of goods and services" now available from an ever-increasing parade of vendors. But even so, Roof's work thoughtfully articulates the introspective fluidity of the baby-boom generation he studies. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

In Spiritual Marketplace sociologist Wade Clark Roof analyzes what he calls the spiritual "quest culture" that has developed among the baby boomer generation. The book follows up on people Roof interviewed for his earlier work, A Generation of Seekers (CH, Oct'93). Roof begins by introducing five individuals whose life histories exemplify "reflexive spirituality" or "quest culture." He argues that boomers generally feel alienated from institutional or organized religion and prefer to construct eclectic spiritual identities and new forms of community. After examining the social trends that gave rise to the quest culture, he goes on to explore how religions have become products to be marketed to the broader culture, using new rhetorical discourses and new symbolic frameworks. Within this quest culture Roof finds boomers fitting into five subcultures: Born-again Christians, Mainstream Believers, Metaphysical Believers and Seekers, Dogmatists, and Secularists. He then examines the impact of family structure on these subcultures and their impact on the public sphere as new moral visions emerge. Roof writes in a jargon-free, accessible style, often lucidly summarizing (and challenging) the arguments of other sociologists and cultural observers. Recommended for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. C. R. Piar; California State University, Long Beach

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: On Maps and Terrainsp. 3
Chapter 1 Varieties of Spiritual Questp. 16
Chapter 2 The Making of a Quest Culturep. 46
Chapter 3 Spiritual Marketplacep. 77
Chapter 4 On Being Fluid and Groundedp. 111
Chapter 5 A Quest for What?p. 145
Chapter 6 Redrawing the Boundariesp. 180
Chapter 7 Realigning Family and Religionp. 217
Chapter 8 Moral Vision and Valuesp. 254
Conclusion: "Whirl Is King, Having Driven Out Zeus"p. 294
Appendix Methodologyp. 315
Notesp. 325
Indexp. 361