Pilgrimage as developmental process of meaning co-creation

Warfield, Heather A. (2014) Pilgrimage as developmental process of meaning co-creation. In: Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies 2014: Shared Journeys: The Confluence of Pilgrimage Traditions , 26-28 Sep 2014, Williamsburg, VA. United States .


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.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology, Counselling and Community (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2014)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology, Counselling and Community (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2014)
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2016 05:37
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2017 06:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: pilgrimage; co-creation; developmental process
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170111 Psychology of Religion
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5299 Other psychology > 529999 Other psychology not elsewhere classified
50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5004 Religious studies > 500405 Religion, society and culture
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520504 Psychology of religion
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950406 Religious Traditions (excl. Structures and Rituals)
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26150

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