From security to self-expression: The emergent value pattern and the changing role of religion

Lassander, Mika (2011). From security to self-expression: The emergent value pattern and the changing role of religion. PhD thesis The Open University.



Religious change is a slow process of adaptation to changed realities of existence where maintaining both emotional and cognitive functioning of the worldview for the individual is central. A shift in human priorities from security to self-expression is linked to increased feelings of security, and after this shift a pluralistic context can further facilitate the development of morality and values that transcend local conventions and traditions. New kinds of worldviews, such as contemporary Paganism, emerge to support and legitimise these new values and modes of interaction. For this thesis, I employed a pragmatic mixed-methods methodology in which psychological value survey data was collected and analysed first, followed by thematic interviews that assist in explaining and interpreting the findings.

Young Pagans continue to emphasise the importance of altruism, unlike young Christians, because Paganism works better as a support for altruistic values for people with post-materialist priorities. The majority of Pagans operate on egalitarian modalities of interpersonal relations and their value pattern is characterised by universalistic rather than in-group focused altruism. The lack of a clear collective identity and the consequent lack of an encompassing boundary have shifted the focus in Paganism from talking about boundaries and community to talking about social interactions, concrete relationships between individuals, and to recognising the innate human need to cultivate these relationships. In short, research about Paganism illustrates the way in which contextual factors slowly change the type of people's worldview, without implying increasing rationality; rather, frameworks that have been like templates - providing exemplars - are restyled as trellises that provide footholds to support individual growth.

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