In my reading of Lynn Davidman’s Tradition in a Rootless World: Women Turn to Orthodox Judaism, one question kept occuring to me. Could the wave of religious extremism that seems to be becoming more prominent be considered the modern counterculture? There seems to be an increasing number of membership, or at least more media attention, for sectarian-edging religions. Davidman mentions that her book, “tells the story of two groups of secular Jewish women who were troubled by some of the characteristic dilemmas of modern life, such as feelings of isolation, rootlessness, and confusion about gender. These women sought solutions in an unusual way through participation in Orthodox Jewish resocialization programs.” The thought process of these women seems very similar to John Milton Yinger’s definition of a contraculture, which he defines to be at, “conflict with the values of the total society.” The women in Davidman’s book are confused by and at odds with the liberal society that surrounds them. They sought for a, perhaps odd, method of coping with this discrepancy.
To me, this appears to bare semblance to a countercultural movement. The massive amounts of attention being paid to religious movements in the media is undeniable and definitely at odds with mainstream liberal society. However, this ultra-conservative push back hardly resembles the countercultural movements of the past. Historically, countercultural movements have been very emotional liberal and progressive such as Romanticism of the early 1800’s, the Beat Generation of the 50’s and 60’s, and the Hippie movement of the 60’s and 70’s. Is it possible for there to be a conservative counterculture, because, if so, if would be the first of its kind and point towards the ushering in of a new era of thinking. This new era would be marked by a liberal mainstream and a heavy conservative push back that mimics the liberal ones of the past.