Pilgrimage as developmental process of meaning co-creation

Paper


Warfield, Heather A.. 2014. "Pilgrimage as developmental process of meaning co-creation." Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies 2014: Shared Journeys: The Confluence of Pilgrimage Traditions. Williamsburg, United States 26 - 28 Sep 2014
Paper/Presentation Title

Pilgrimage as developmental process of meaning co-creation

Presentation TypePaper
Authors
AuthorWarfield, Heather A.
Year2014
Web Address (URL) of Paperhttp://www.wm.edu/sites/pilgrimage/annualsymposium/program2014/Program%202014.pdf
Conference/EventSymposium on Pilgrimage Studies 2014: Shared Journeys: The Confluence of Pilgrimage Traditions
Event Details
Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies 2014: Shared Journeys: The Confluence of Pilgrimage Traditions
Event Date
26 to end of 28 Sep 2014
Event Location
Williamsburg, United States
Abstract

That humans pass through stages as part of development underpins many psychological paradigms. Inherent within these stage models is the notion that environmental factors intersect with internal mechanisms and result in biological, psychological, social, and spiritual change. Within a pilgrimage, there are notable time points, or stages, through which pilgrims move as the journey unfolds. These stages include making a decision to go on a pilgrimage, preparing for the pilgrimage, journeying on the pilgrimage, and returning home from the pilgrimage.

In several qualitative studies exploring a diverse range of religious and secular pilgrimage experiences, participants were interviewed about specific time points in their particular journeys. Embedded in the interview protocol was the psychological dimension of meaning-making. Participants described the decision to go on a pilgrimage as a definitive moment in time in which previous decisions and experiences seemed to align. The preparation for the pilgrimage was characterized as a separation from routine such as preparing to leave one’s family or surroundings and engaging in physical exercise. Participants found meaning in the preparation in such ways as constructing a commemorative motorcycle to participate in the USA 'Run for the Wall' pilgrimage while processing memories from military service in the Vietnam conflict. The actual pilgrimage journey was meaningful in that participants reported connecting with one’s sense of an 'authentic self' or reprioritizing life. Upon the return home, participants reported a renewed sense of purpose in life and feeling less depressed than before the pilgrimage.

Integrating the tourism construct of co-creation with developmental processes, it is evident that pilgrims begin a process of co-creating meaning at the decision to go on a pilgrimage and this meaning co-creation is ongoing after the return home. Each stage within the journey builds upon the last. The implications of this research are important in validating that rich data can be gained from individual pilgrims about the pilgrimage phenomenon. Knowledge about specific meaning constructions can be utilized by travel and tourism stakeholders to promote pilgrimage routes and sacred sites. And, laypersons can be informed about the transformational nature of a pilgrimage journey and encouraged to pursue this as a meaningful type of travel.

Keywordspilgrimage; co-creation; developmental process
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020529999. Other psychology not elsewhere classified
500405. Religion, society and culture
520504. Psychology of religion
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Psychology, Counselling and Community
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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