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In: Hermeneutics and Empirical Research in Practical Theology

Culture and religion are both collective phenomena. Social identity theory shows how both can function as a connective frame of reference for a certain group of human beings. Frames are unique; nevertheless, different frames can overlap each other. In this research, both big categories will be used to explore if and how they predict attitudes towards the social importance of religious institutions. Religious institutions are guided by religious authorities and these authorities have a specific responsibility to keep these institutions alive and prepare them for the future. In this research, respondents were asked how religious institutions can best be prepared for the future: whether they should use their social authority, moral authority, spiritual or cultural authority? The second and main question of this paper is: can the appreciated social importance of religious institutions be predicted by religious or non-religious reasons, i.e. by either respondents’ religious belonging or their national identity? A requirement for such research is the availability of a cross-cultural and cross-religious sample. In this paper, data were taken from the “Religion and Human Rights” programme and respondents from 14 countries (N=13.004) were included in the analysis. The findings show that respondents regard the social importance of religion differently and that differences depend on respondents’ country of citizenship and their religious belonging. If the weight of these influences is compared, respondents’ views are more strongly predicted by their national than by their religious belonging. The findings also show that there is an overlap between national culture and religion, which explains a certain percentage of the variance.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

This paper begins with a presentation of three concepts of pluralism found in the works of Francois Lyotard, Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor respectively. These concepts are compared and evaluated and their implications for religious education in a multicultural society are developed. On the basis of Taylor's “process of encounter” three strategies for religious education are proposed: adopt new theologies of dialogue; prove its dialogical character by turning productively to the world of the pupils, and include a relativizing self-examination in the treatment of the Christian religion.

In: International Journal of Education and Religion
In: The Public Significance of Religion

Abstract

In research, normativity is 'unavoidable' because when a particular problem (or facets of a problem) is chosen and the decision for a concrete project is made, other problems (or facets) are excluded. Furthermore, unavoidable normative goals are connected to every research project. It can also be a matter of direct goals which relate to an immediate purpose or of indirect goals which refer to the indirect purpose of a research project. In the end, normativity is in fact unavoidable in the testing of hypotheses because no methodology exists to regulate the research process internally. In this contribution, normativity in the research process is prominent and is, more precisely, directed towards empirical research in the discipline of theology known as "Practical Theology" (PTh). First, it will be shown that normativity is already connected with the goal of PTh i.e. the development of descriptive object/subject theories (theories about practice). Second, it will be set forth that normativity is also unavoidable in empirical methodology. In the three following sections, how normativity plays a role in the context of discovery, the context of justification, and the context of application will be put in concrete terms. Normativity in empirical practical theological research is discursive normativity.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

Since 1995, so-called 'wishes of churchgoers' have been implemented in a number of European countries. In these adjustments a fundamental church reform is demanded, especially in the fields of women's ordination, celibacy, having a say in bishop appointments, sexual ethics and the association with divorced - and remarried people. The list with critical remarks is long, which explains the tension between the church as it is desired and the church as it is experienced. Well, reflections and discussions about the question what the church should (has to) be like, are part of the essence of the church itself. Reconsidering its roots against the background of a prophesied future is a hermeneutic performance that cannot come to an end. Whatever views can be extracted from this proces, they are embedded in the context of the present and aimed at making a modern presence of the church possible. Modernity can be interpreted as continuity in horizontal and vertical respect. So, the question which path the church should take in the future is obviously a permanent problem - actually nothing out of the ordinary. There is one group, though, for which the development of the church could be of particular importance: those who study theology. They will mark the face of the church as potential future assistants in catechism, in pastoral service, in the numerous fields of territorial and categorial spiritual care. How the church will develop and what it will be like, is ultimately also decided by their practice. That is why this group should be looked at more closely here. One question should be with what representations of the church as it is desired, first-year students start their studies in theology - even when it is obvious that this representation can experience changes in the course of the studies and due to future professional experiences.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

This contribution develops two moral educational meaning conceptions concerning questions of sexuality, in recourse to role-theoretical reflections. They can be situated in the field of tension between the heteronomous and autonomous educational approach. It is assumed that, because of the present church situation and due to the particular significance of questions concerning sexual morality in theological ethics, the autonomous orientated concept of sexual education evokes conflicts in professional assistants in church youth work (in Germany).

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

When thinking of alternatives for denominational religious teaching, it always includes answering the question about the relating discipline. In this contribution, the question is which theological horizon justifies the established type of denominational teaching as practised in Germany, and which theological justifications for alternative concepts of teaching are involved. In addition, it is also necessary to investigate the actual importance of distinctions between types of teaching and explanatory contexts in practice, that is, in the minds of teachers.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

The present study was part of a large research project on human rights. This paper focuses on attitudes towards labour rights of German adolescents (N = 2244) The labour rights under investigation are the right to work for everyone, the right to equal pay for equal work, the right to working hour limitations, the right to paid holidays, and the right to support for the unemployed. Although human rights in general are considered as universal, egalitarian and indivisible, attitudes towards these rights can be positive, negative or ambivalent, and may depend on the context. The aim of this study is to investigate adolescents’ attitudes towards labour rights, and to examine whether and which contextual factors are related to their attitudes towards labour rights. The contextual factors under examination were: human dignity, religious beliefs, the socio-political perception of society, and socio-demographic characteristics. The findings show that labour rights are very positively valued, except support for the unemployed. From all predictors the strongest is the understanding of human dignity as inherent to humans, followed by dignity through moral behaviour.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology