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Spirituality in adolescence and young adulthood: a method for a qualitative study
journal contributionposted on 2004-12-01, 00:00 authored by Andrew SingletonAndrew Singleton, M Mason, R Webber
This paper discusses an ongoing research project on contemporary forms of youth and young adult spirituality, highlighting issues in the history and definition of spirituality and in development of appropriate qualitative methods of investigation. Previous research on the topic has been bedevilled by difficulties of definition. 'Spirit' and 'spirituality' have a long history in both philosophy and religion and surviving senses of the terms include both religious and non-religious meanings. This paper suggests that 'lexical' definitions based on usage prove unwieldy because of widely varying and conflicting contents. Only a 'stipulative' definition will serve to provide a research project with a clear focus; our definition of spirituality as 'a conscious way of life based on a transcendent referent' is explained and defended. Next, we outline the distinctive features of our methodology: no direct mention of the term spirituality, an emphasis on personal narration and the use of evocative techniques. We conclude by outlining the 10 dimensions of spirituality which we have developed from our initial investigations.