An Ethnography of the Language and Function of Spirituality within the Visible Recovery Movement
AbstractCritiques of contemporary spirituality have scrutinised that language as functioning to perpetuate hyperindividualism. They contend that spirituality anesthetises its adherents to the devastating suffering caused by capitalism. While these critiques are representative, they offer only a limited perspective and distort the diversity and functionality of spirituality in alternative contexts. In this dissertation, I argue that the grassroots spirituality of the Visible Recovery Movement (VRM) offers a viable challenge. It is diverse, deeply-meaningful and is located within a movement made up of friends, family and primarily people identifying as in recovery, usually from a disempowering substance use disorder. Many participants do associate with the 12-Step spirituality of programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Alternatively, those who do not affiliate with the 12-Steps conceive spirituality as, for instance, faith-based, mindfulness and self-help. Participants identify that language as a catalyst of autonomy, meaning, power and transformation. Data was gathered using the methods of qualitative ethnography within the VRM during Recovery Month, September 2016. Narratives of recovery and spirituality are both personal and social. Spirituality is embedded in vital self-care, responsibility, self-identity, inter-personal connection and altruism. During communal events such as the Recovery Walks, activists performatively celebrate recovery, endeavour for social change and challenge stigma.
CitationMetcalf-White, L. (2017). An Ethnography of the Language and Function of Spirituality within the Visible Recovery Movement. (Masters thesis). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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