Practising pilgrimage: Spirituality, movement, and competing discourses on the Camino de Santiago

Ailish Kathryn O'Donoghue

Studenteropgave: Masterafhandling


This study aims to examine the resurgence of pilgrimage, by exploring how interaction between space, people and media technology influences how pilgrims make sense of their experience on the Camino de Santiago. A 20-day field study was carried out on the most popular route, the Camino Francés, in September 2018. The theories of communitas and contestation were applied together. Given that a key element of the Camino is the journey, a number of movement theories were also applied, while communications theories were used to examine how pilgrims represent their experience to the external world. Methods including participant observation, informal conversations, semi-structured interviews, and visual and text analysis were used to collect and analyse the data, and the software programme NVivo was used to code this data and identify patterns. The findings indicate that whether pilgrims perceive the Camino as secular or non- secular has a significant impact on how they make sense of their experience, and on whether they contribute to the fellowship of communitas, or the tension associated with contestation.

This study has also found that some religious pilgrims do not feel they can openly express their faith, uncovering a hidden level of contestation between the secular and non-secular discourses. In addition, the study shows that spirituality has become a catch all for secular pilgrims, evident in how they interpret traditionally religious sites and describe meaningful experiences with others and the space of the Camino. This opens up questions related to post- secular studies and whether the resurgence of pilgrimage shows there is a surge in the individual expression of spirituality, rather than a renewed interest in organised religion. However, this focus on the individual is juxtaposed with pilgrims’ need to share their experience with others online.

UddannelserGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato28 jan. 2019
Antal sider84
VejledereBjørn Thomassen & Remzi Ates Gürsimsek