Date: 08 Nov 2012

Review Essay: Towards Cultural Psychology of Religion by J. E. Belzen

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Jacob Belzen spends the first two-thirds of his 2010 book doing two things: (1) developing a cogent critique of the presuppositions that underlie mainstream psychology, especially as regards the study of religion, and (2) promoting greater use of what he calls a “cultural psychology.” The last third presents a number of religious case studies, all from the Netherlands, that demonstrate the value of cultural psychology. Although Belzen emphasizes “embodiment” in these studies, his results suggest that religion is often a “performance” for particular audiences. Finally, the applicability of Belzen’s approach to religions outside the Western tradition is discussed.