Astro TV in Holland: spirituality, power, and gender
Frans Jespers (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
In Holland and other European countries, since some years daily commercial services are broadcasted in a show called Astro TV. Clients dial, and a psychic offers an advice derived from spirits or signs of the zodiac. Spirituality has here two senses: care for one's psychological balance ('reinforcement'), and contacts with energies or spirits from beyond. Although it does not look like established religion, it requires a strong belief in secret knowledge and higher forces. I use the theory of Bourdieu to trace power aspects, and that of Woodhead for gender. I analyse the biographies of the psychics and the idea of enjoying spirituality. 'Power' is exercised on two levels: (1) psychics treating clients; (2) strong symbolical influence of the producers. Most participants are women, because of the holistic view of life, corporeal symbolism, emotional treatment, and the ideals of independence and enjoyment.
Spirituality against religion: the role of gender and power