December Dissertation Defenses in Sweden at in Psychology of Religion, and the IMPACT research program at Uppsala University

Existential meaning-making in the midst of meaninglessness and suffering

  • Date: 13 december, kl. 13.00
  • Place: Universitetshuset, sal IV
  • Doctoral candidate: Yukako Nahlbom
  • Organiser: Teologiska institutionen

Advisors: Professor Valerie DeMarinis; Associate Professor Önver Cetrez, Uppsala University; Professor Fumie Inatani, Kagoshima University, Japan

Opponent: Professor Lars Danbolt, Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Norway

The overall aim of this qualitative study was to explore the function of religion and volunteer workers in religious organizations in contributing to the reconstruction and development of existential meaning and psychosocial well-being regarding the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Full title: Existential meaning-making in the midst of meaninglessness and suffering: Studying the function of religion and religious organizations in the reconstruction and development of existential meaning and psychosocial well-being after the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami

This study was undertaken from the psychology of religion and approached by focusing on experiences of volunteer workers in different religious organizations who worked in the disaster-affected areas. Empirical data were collected via 27 semi-structured interviews, and the collected data were analyzed using a template analysis style (Malterud, 1998). The theoretical perspectives primarily used in the study were: the existential meaning and existential meaning-making framework developed mainly by DeMarinis (2003, 2008) and a culturally- adapted version (DeMarinis, 2013) of the Adaptation and Development after Persecution and Trauma (ADAPT) model (Silove et al., 2006). In addition, Marsella’s (2005) perspective on culture and Kleinman’s culturally sensitive perspective on health and well-being further developed by DeMarinis (2003) were employed to analyze the data in relation to the Japanese cultural context. In the results of the study, the five key domains from the ADAPT model were identified as existential and psychosocial resources available for survivors and volunteer workers from the religious organizations. The results indicated that these psychosocial domains interacted with each other, and especially with the domain of existential meaning and meaning-making. The existential domain played an important role in psychosocial well-being for both survivors and volunteer workers from the different religious organizations. The results also showed that the most significant function of volunteer workers in religious organizations was to deal with the survivors’ disrupted existential system by engaging in kokoro no kea 心のケア[mental health care or care for the heart] by using religious symbols and rituals, and thereby contributing to the reconstruction and development of the disrupted and lost existential meaning of survivors in the damaged areas

 

 

 

 

 

Vilken mening!?: En blandad metodstudie i religionspsykologi av meningsskapandets betydelse för skolungdomar {Which meaning!? A mixed-methods study in psychology of religion on meaning-making’s importance for school youth}

  • Date: 21 December, 13:15
  • Location: Humanistiska teatern, Engelska parken Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala
  • Doctoral candidate: Schumann, Åsa
  • Organiser: Teologiska institutionen

Advisors: Professor Valerie DeMarinis; Associate Professor Önver Cetrez, Uppsala University; Professor James Day, LOUVAIN-LA-NEUVE | UCLouvain – Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Opponent:  Professor (emeritus) Antoon Geels, Lund University

The purpose of the study was to explore the role of religion in the development of a meaning system among Swedish adolescents by examining the interactions of their: sense of coherence (SOC), identity process (U-MICS), moral development (SRM-SF), and views on existential and religious questions.

The study used a Mixed Methods Design, with a Sequential Explanatory Strategy consisting of quantitative and qualitative parts. In the quantitative part of the study, 90 students in 8th grade, 50 girls and 40 boys, participated. The qualitative part of the study consisted of 24 semi-structured interviews drawn from the original group.

According to the results, there was a relation between SOC and the following variables in the identity process (U-MICS): commitment to school and reconsideration of commitment to friends, and commitment to school and perception of the importance of religion. The SOC value among girls was significantly lower than among boys. The results did not indicate a significant relationship between moral development, SOC values, and the religious variables.

In the qualitative interview results, the participants in the commitment phase relating to school expressed more satisfaction with their school situations and relationships than those who were predominantly in the reconsideration of commitment phase. Those with a higher level of commitment to school were also more likely to express the view that religion was important in life. Interview material showed that those young people who expressed the belief that religion was important in life today or believed that religion constituted a potential future source of strength dominated the group with higher SOC. The results served to reinforce theoretical perspectives on the meaning-making function of religion. The study results suggest that safe and trustful relationships with peers and adults related closely to SOC values among these adolescents and were singled out as their most important sources of strength and support in life

 

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