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Factors contributing to a spiritual but not religious belief system: A grounded theory study

22 April 2013


This dissertation is a qualitative study using grounded theory methodology. The purpose of the study was to investigate the belief systems and practices of a growing segment of the population who identify as being spiritual but not religious (SnR). Thirteen participants who self-identified as holding SnR belief systems were interviewed regarding their experiences with religion and spirituality. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and condensed into narratives depicting the participants’ spiritual develop across their lifetimes. For added validity, a second reader also independently read and created themes based on three of these interviews. The resultant grounded theory is referred to as the Generalized Path of a Spiritual Quest, and it contains descriptions of processes that the participants encountered at various phases of their spiritual journey utilizing key quotes from the participants’ interviews. The model describes the participants’ spiritual development across their lifetimes, and processes include Religious Upbringing; Taking Perspective; Parting from Religion of Origin; Broad Search for Meaning; Adopting a Spiritual Worldview; Spiritual Growth; and Death, Rebirth, and Continuation of the Cycle.


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