Sabine Keller


The outcomes of the literature review indicate how the early steps of capitalist production have led to the development of consumer society. It was highlighted how consumption has entered more and more areas in current life. However one cannot be sure about the underlying motives of consumption. It is taken into account that there might be strategically planned manipulation of consumer behaviour and seductive advertising in the same time as consumer sovereignty depending on the individual as well as on the product and type of need that has to be fulfilled and other circumstances.
Still it is suggested that life becomes more dominated by consumption either in form of a leisure activity or in order to fulfil various kinds of desires. One could argue that most areas in life are commercialised and therefore open to purchase. This clearly might have an affect on the way religion is perceived as well as consumed. New forms of religion such as the New Age movement might have a better chance in attracting people through the way they publicly present themselves. As it was highlighted in chapter three New Age religions often include a strong commercial aspect. In this sense it is suggested that they have to pay more attention to the wants or needs of the ‘client’ and might tailor the presentation of their organisation or institution in order to achieve maximum response (which is important since many of the organisations or institutions rely financially on the attendance of a sufficient number of clients). This underlines the impact that a privatisation of religion might have on society. As a result many of the New Age organisations can be identified as commercial bodies.
In addition the potpourri of the New Age movement on offer might match better with consumer culture than established forms of religion (such as Christianity). People are able to chose and combine a variety of New Age disciplines without any commitment which seems similar to lifestyle consumption where the consumers design their own personality. This argument is supported by the primary research of this paper where the outcomes showed that the readers of the selected New Age magazines are practically bombarded through massive advertising of new techniques and practices in advertisements as well as in the articles themselves. However one cannot be completely sure about the underlying motivation that drives people towards the New Age religions. The commercial aspect of the new forms of religions cannot be denied hence there might be also other more profound aspects to them. Therefore the question of everything becoming eventually reduced to consumption and thus to consumer society, remains unanswered since this might also depend to a certain extent on the individual.

Self critique

This part of the dissertation highlights the limitation of this research as well as it indicates the necessary further research on this issue. Self-evidently the literature review, the major part of this research, does not cover the material on this issue exhaustively which suggests further examination of the literature. Also to consider is that the literature review includes some complex and rather difficult theory. The lack of experience of the researcher might have inhibited the full understanding of the complexity of the issue and thus prevented a comprehensive and sufficient presentation.
In addition the primary research only analysed a selection of New Age magazines. A more comprehensive examination of the New Age material would be necessary. It should be pointed out that the chosen categories of the tables are only one possibility to analyse the magazines. Some difficulties in ‘coding’ the categories of the tables were experienced. As already mentioned in the research outcomes, table 4 does not include articles which are entirely based on the information of a book in the category of ‘advertising articles’. It was felt that this would have minimised or biased the outcomes. Furthermore the researcher is aware that the outcomes of table 4  are strongly debatable since underlying and often unconscious motivations of the articles were researched which cannot be analysed completely objectively. However the researcher attempted to expound the chosen strategies and categories and felt this method would assist best in order to maximise the findings. Equally the primary research did not specify between possible cultural differences between the British and German magazines which might be worth of additional analysis. Furthermore research on the actual participants of the New Age movement has to be conducted, which could be especially beneficial to research on the issue of the active consumer. It is suggested that in-depth interviews and focus groups might be suitable. Similarly participant observation (with a bigger sample) at New Age fairs as well as New Age seminars and workshops could be beneficial. This would assist in overcoming the problems that have emerged in identifying New Age participants as well as their grade of commitment. Possible areas to explore could be:
-what ‘new agers’ actually consume
-how long ‘new agers’ have been committed to the New Age movement
-whether participants consider themselves as a ‘new ager’
-how people became a ‘new ager’
-how ‘new agers’ see the future of New Age religions (including the development of commercialism in New Age)
-how ‘new agers’ overcome possible contradictions between New Age and living in a consumer society
However, as already mentioned in chapter four on the primary research, a more extensive research would have exceeded the space of this dissertation as well as it would have been gone beyond the scope of budget and time of the researcher.