Spirituality in a secular age: Possiblities for youth work

Document Type

Book Chapter


Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Place of Publication

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


School of Arts and Humanities




Originally published as: Cooper, T. (2016). Spirituality in a secular age: Possibilities for youth work. In P. Daughtry & S. Devenish (Eds.), Spirituality for youth-work: New vocabulary, concepts and practices (pp. 32-50). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Original chapter available here


This chapter employs historical and sociological perspectives to examine the place of spirituality in youth work in Australia. After beginning with a brief discussion about the relationship between sociology and spirituality, the chapter situates concepts of spirituality in the Australian social context. Following this, a working definition of spirituality is identified. The chapter then moves to an analysis of what the sociological data tells us about the spiritual beliefs of young Australians. The later sections of the chapter suggest how youth work in Australia, both secular and church based, might respond to the spiritual beliefs of young Australians in the early twenty-first century. In conclusion, spirituality is identified as a resource for resistance to contemporary structural threats to holistic youth work.


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