The Role of Religious Ritual in Social Capital Formation for Poverty Alleviation and Social Development. Theoretical and Methodological Points of Departure of a South African Exploration

in Religion and Theology
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Abstract

The article is a presentation of a South African research project in which researchers in the fields of ritual-liturgical studies and social development are collaborating to explore the role of religious ritual in the kinds of social capital formation that have a direct significance and implication for alleviating poverty and promoting social development at grassroots level. Focusing on Christian congregations in poor socio-economic contexts in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the aim of the research is to understand social capital formation through the lens of religious ritual. The research project builds on the hypothesis that social capital has a role to play in the related goals of poverty alleviation and social development, something which it seeks to conceptualise and explore in greater detail. Within this framework the discussion explores and contextualises the conceptual link between social capital and the practice of religious ritual in present-day South African society by drawing on existing research and theoretical debates, both nationally and internationally. This enables the authors to present some additional notes on the key theoretical, conceptual and methodological points of departure of the undertaken project. These are followed by a number of concluding observations about the modes of investigation and action steps through which the research topic is currently being further developed.

Religion and Theology

A Journal of Contemporary Religious Discourse

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