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Findings Series 3 - Participation in spiritual and related activity

Date: May 2007
Category: Briefing Paper
Author: GCPH

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This paper explores emergent forms of participation in relation to spiritual and related activity in order to assess the similarities and differences between traditional spiritual activity.

The exploratory research project sought to investigate whether, rather than a decline in social capital generation per se, there may be a change occurring in the places and activities that generate social capital and, if so, whether these new forms of social capital generation are more suited to current society than more traditional forms (such as traditional churches, the nuclear family and communities based around large industrial workplaces). 


Key findings of this paper are:

  • New forms of spiritual practice, while promoting health and wellbeing for individuals involved, are not yet at a stage at which they generate community level benefits. 
  • New forms of spiritual practice are successful in simultaneously satisfying a need for deeper engagement with spiritual issues alongside a desire to maintain personal autonomy and be an author of one’s own belief.
  • Existing successful forms of informal voluntary activity should be recognised rather than seeking to create new structures for participation.

A detailed study and assessment of the social capital framework in Glasgow was carried out by FMR Research in 2006. It is referenced in this briefing paper and is available to download here.