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Series:

Edited by Veronique Altglas and Matthew Wood

The contributors to Bringing Back the Social into the Sociology of Religion explore how 'bringing the social back into the sociology of religion' makes possible a more adequate sociological understanding of such topics as power, emotions, the self, or ethnic relations in religious life. In particular, they do so by engaging with social theories and addressing issues of epistemology and scientific reflexivity. The chapters of this book cover a range of different religious traditions and regions of the world such as Sufism in Pakistan; the Kabbalah Centre in Europe, Brazil and Israel; African Christian missions in Europe; and Evangelical Christianity in France and Oceania. They are based upon original empirical research, making use of a range of methods - quantitative, ethnographic and documentary.

Series:

Edited by Lene Kühle, Jørn Borup and William Hoverd

Drawing on international and thematic case studies, The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity asks its readers to pay attention to the assumptions and processes by which scholars, religious practitioners and states construct religious diversity. The study has three foci: theoretical and methodological issues; religious diversity in non-Western contexts; and religious diversity in social contexts. Together, these trans-contextual studies are utilised to develop a critical analysis exploring how agency, power and language construct understandings of religious diversity. As a result, the book argues that reflexive scholarship needs to consider that the dynamics of diversification and homogenisation are fundamental to understanding social and religious life, that religious diversity is a Western concept, and that definitions of ‘religious diversity’ are often entangled by and within dynamic empirical realities.

Series:

Edited by Lene Kühle, William Hoverd and Jørn Borup

Abstract

The card network has worked in an explorative manner, searching for all the issues, concerns and problematics which may influence how religious diversity is defined and conceptualised. In this concluding chapter, the themes in Terminology, Methodology, Context, Framing, Theories, Funding/Institutional Logistics and outcomes are gathered and discussed and a check list drafted for researchers researching religious diversity. The check list is aimed at preventing uncritical reproduction of narratives about religious diversity by practicing reflexivity in their work on religious diversity.

Series:

William Hoverd and Lene Kühle

Abstract

Different countries count their population and map the religious landscape in different ways. This chapter compare and contrast the empirical ways in which population level religious adherence is recorded in Denmark and New Zealand. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a critical reflexive approach to national level religious diversity statistics by undertaking a comparison of affiliation data from Denmark and New Zealand. Where New Zealand measures adherence through its national population census and conversely, Denmark measures it through localized measurements. A clash between these ideas of uniform membership and the clear distinctions between different religions with what is a messier empirical reality is documented. It is demonstrated that the method/s chosen to collect national data have consequences for scholarship because the numbers produced both influence and construct the way in which we conceptualise religious diversity and the questions scholars ask of that data.

Series:

Martin Baumann and Andreas Tunger-Zanetti

Abstract

Since the early 1990s, in Switzerland numerous interreligious dialogue initiatives came into being. Usually, the initiatives assemble more or less the same spectre of religious traditions but, for various reasons, are far from reflecting the entire range of the religious landscape as mapped by academic Religious Studies. The contribution analyses the emergence and composition of different interreligious dialogue initiatives, based on interviews with key persons, and elaborates on the function of gatekeepers of these dialogue initiatives for representing local and national religious diversity. Furthermore, the chapter scrutinises the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion and highlights the specific understanding of ‘legitimate’ religion reproduced in these initiatives. It argues that the notion of ‘world religions’ coined in the late 19th century with underlying normative implications structure the limitation and power imbalance of interreligious dialogue initiatives usually not contemplated by its promotors and administrators.

Series:

Mar Griera

Abstract

In recent years, there have been a significant increase in research projects focusing on counting and mapping religious diversity in Europe. The appearance of these projects, aimed at translating diversity into numbers and locating religion spatially, can be read as a consequence of an academic but also a political paradigm change in regards to religion. For this reason, it is important to raise awareness and critically examine the politics of map-making and the methodological approaches to religion. By taking the “Catalan Map of Religious Diversity “as a point of departure this chapter reflects on the the consequences of defining and explaining ‘religion’ in terms of public policies, and reflects on the political implications of the different research strategies and decisions. The chapter will not provide a detailed account of the Catalan Religious Map itself but rather will examine the conditions that gave rise to the project and reflect on the social and political implications of projects of this kind. This is framed theoretically within Foucault’s notions of governmentality and regimes of truth, complemented by the work of Rose-Redwood (2006) and others on the critical analysis of knowledge production and governmental rationalities.

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Andrew Dawson

Abstract

This chapter introduces and employs the concept of dynamic diversity to move beyond the prevailing analytical frame of much contemporary literature that addresses the recent emergence of what is most commonly termed a “new religious diversity” or “new religious pluralism”. The concept of dynamic diversity advances contemporary thinking about religion in two key respects. First, it conceptualizes the religious diversification unfolding in more and more parts of the world as neither random nor regionally idiosyncratic but patterned by transnational processes and border-transcending forces that are typically modern in character. Second, and allied with its use of global-modernity, the notion of dynamic diversity corrects the disproportionate focus upon and undue explanatory weight given to transnational migration by the new diversity paradigm. Such is achieved because the concept of dynamic diversity affords appropriate analytical attention to the cumulatively diversifying effects of global-modernity’s transformative, differentiated, individualizing, worldwide, and increasingly market-oriented character. This chapter explicates the dynamically diversifying impact of these global-modern processes through reference to migration (domestic and transnational), detraditionalization and religious mobilization to conclude that the appearance, consolidation and spread of dynamic diversity is as inevitable as any socio-cultural process can be.

Series:

Stefania Travagnin

Abstract

The academic debate on religious diversity and pluralism of religions has started to recently address the case of China, where a plurality of religious behaviours and doctrines have co-existed – even if not always peacefully – since the dawn of Chinese civilization. When it concerns China, the preliminary discussion on religious diversity found its first difficulties in the adoption of the word ‘religion’, and reached the conclusion that both the construct of ‘religion’ and the concept of ‘diversity’ should be problematised and critically redefined in light of the China context.

This chapter will start with an overview of the arguments, theories, and methods already applied as frameworks for the study of religious diversity in China. The second part of the chapter will suggest looking at the Chinese understanding of ‘diversity’ from a cosmological, philosophical and social perspective. The chapter will then address ‘diversity’ as it emerges in the state-controlled social media and state education, and will finally look at the religious landscape in Sichuan province as a concrete example of religious diversity of the ground in China; the chapter then shifts from state-norms on religion and diversity to local emic and ritual practices of diversity.

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Paul Bramadat

Abstract

What can we learn when an interaction between a student and a professor is transformed from a single act of negotiation into a major national political scandal? In this chapter, I explore a controversy in Canada in which a powerful common perspective emerged very quickly and which provides us with a clear view of some of the problematic social forces governing the ways we might be said to think together about the challenges thought to be posed by religious diversity. Here I argue for a suspicious approach to all moments of consensus, especially when those meanings emerge out of moral panics related to highly charged debates around religious diversity. In this case, the public framing of a (possibly) Muslim student’s request for accommodation from a Canadian university reflected a troubling rush to judgement that speaks volumes about how, under certain political operating conditions, actors in different social contexts can achieve a common mind about what constitutes appropriate accommodations of religious people. Here, I offer some general lessons we might learn about religion, politics, and the way public discourse can coarsen our approaches to some of the real and certainly most of the imagined challenges associated with religious diversity. Although the actors in this case are Canadians, the broader forces in play are not unique to this society but appear in various ways in other western immigrant-receiving societies.

Series:

Anna Halafoff

Abstract

Interfaith youth initiatives and educational programs about diverse religions in schools began to be viewed as potential social cohesion strategies, and important tools in countering extremism, following the July 2005 London bombings when concerns about the radicalisation of Muslim youth and fears of home-grown terrorism became prevalent in many so-called Western societies. The global interfaith movement had already grown significantly in the usA, the uk and Australia since September 11, 2001, given the movement’s longstanding commitment to promoting positive interreligious relations, countering prejudices and addressing global risks and injustices. This chapter presents the findings of a study of young people participating in InterAction, an Australian interfaith youth movement founded in 2009, and is focused on their religious identities and views on religion and education. The data gathered indicates that interreligious youth initiatives and education about worldviews and religions can play a role in advancing interreligious understanding, and social inclusion in religiously diverse societies. It also demonstrates that young people’s complex lived experiences of religious diversity, and construction of religious identity, need to be considered in the development of such programs and in contemporary critical research on religious diversity.