Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 1769-1772

Syncretism

The term “syncretism” has had different denotations and connotations over time. In current usage in anthropology and religious studies, it generally refers to a mixing of elements from different religious systems or traditions. From the perspective of many religious leaders, such a mixing is often viewed as a negative process, as an abandoning of true religion. From the perspective of many anthropologists, psychologists, and professionals of other academic disciplines, religious syncretism may assist in a positive acculturation process, whereby elements of different systems emerge in a new format allowing an integration of ideas and behaviors. It is important to bear in mind that whatever example of syncretism is in focus, it always takes place in a psychocultural and sociopolitical context, and therefore, the psychological effects of such need to include those levels of analysis. Though a central historical concept, globalization as well as the challenges of voluntary and forced migra ...

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