A critique of "religion" as a cross-cultural category1

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Timothy Fitzgerald Aichigakuin University, Japan

Search for other papers by Timothy Fitzgerald in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This article has three related purposes. One is to argue the inadequacy of the concept of religion as an analytical concept. I point to vagueness and imprecision in the use of the notion of religion in religious studies texts and I also refer to my own research in India and Japan to substantiate my claim that religion is virtually useless as a cross-cultural analytical concept. The second purpose is to suggest ways of representing and re-representing the extensive and important work which is being produced by scholars who work in religion departments. I also try to place my argument in a wider context of western ideology. I conclude that the confusion generated by the concept of religion cannot be explained only as a category mistake. Instead, it is better understood as a form of mystification generated by its disguised ideological function.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1968 332 20
Full Text Views 897 100 5
PDF Views & Downloads 1451 203 14