Meaning Making Among Older People in the Bible Belt in The Netherlands


  • Pien Bos University of Humanistic Studies Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Sylwin Cornielje University of Humanistic Studies Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Hanne Laceulle University of Humanistic Studies Utrecht, Netherlands



aging, existential meaning, religious communities, connectedness, the Netherlands


In this ethnographic study, we examine how older Calvinist Protestants in a conservative rural area of the Netherlands experience “meaning in life.” We aim to contribute to current research on meaning in life within social and religious contexts. Here, we specify the concept of meaning in life as connectedness. The latter is broadly interpreted as an overarching conceptual component of existential meaning. Indeed, connectedness appears to be of paramount importance in these older villagers’ experiences of meaning in life. All three authors of this paper collaborated during fieldwork. We analyzed documents such as local newspapers, websites, and (church) newsletters. We visited farms and attended local meetings and gatherings such as church- and community- services, and we conducted qualitative interviews with 29 people. The outcomes of our research point to three forms of connectedness: (1) social connectedness; (2) physical connectedness; and (3) transcendent connectedness.

Author Biographies

Pien Bos, University of Humanistic Studies Utrecht, Netherlands


Sylwin Cornielje, University of Humanistic Studies Utrecht, Netherlands


Hanne Laceulle, University of Humanistic Studies Utrecht, Netherlands



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