Editor: Pål Repstad
As the title suggests, Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends reflects upon two important trends that have recently emerged in the sociology of religion. Firstly, there is an increasing interest in the interplay between religion and politics. Religion has moved from being almost ignored by sociologists to being acknowledged – some would even say overrated – as an important political factor. Secondly, ordinary people’s everyday religion has likewise become an important topic for many researchers. In this book, James Beckford, Inger Furseth and other prominent scholars present critical discussions and empirical studies of both political and everyday religion, and the editor, Pål Repstad, shows how these two trends should enter into a closer dialogue. The book is essential for both students and experienced researchers in the sociology of religion.
In: Holy Nations and Global Identities
Author: Pål Repstad

Abstract

The introduction gives an overview of the structure of the book. In the first part, experienced scholars like James A. Beckford and Inger Furseth reflect on recent trends and challenges in the discipline. Concepts like religious diversity and religious complexity are presented and discussed. In the second part, the significance of sociological work for normative disciplines such as ethics and theology is discussed. Furthermore, in this section the implicit normativity of sociology of religion is analyzed, and the question is raised to what extent institutional affiliations and personal religious convictions color perspectives and interpretations in the sociology of religion. In the third part, many of the sociological approaches discussed earlier in the book are used in empirical sociological analyses from young scholars, mainly about lived religion and political religion in Northern Europe. This third part can be seen as an attempt to weaken the geographical limitations of international sociology of religion, still characterized by Anglo-American dominance.

In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends
In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends
Author: Pål Repstad

Abstract

Two topics from recent sociology of religion are introduced and discussed: The politicization of religion and lived religion, also called everyday religion. Schematically, three religio-political strategies for meeting increasing religious diversity is introduced: 1) Struggle for continued homogeneity and dominance of one religion, 2) A removal of religion from the public sphere, and 3) A patient re-negotiation of the place of various religious traditions in the public sphere. Then, after a presentation of the lived religion ‘school’ through the works of Meredith McGuire and Nancy Ammerman, this approach is criticized for sometimes running the risk of structural blindness. Like in all research strategies focusing mostly on informants’ reports of subjective experiences, the danger is to ignore the structures framing people’s lives, such as churches, politics or media. The conclusion is that sociologist of religion should try much more to bind together studies of political religion and lived religion, especially in an age where religion and politics have become more closely intertwined.

In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends
In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends
Author: Pål Repstad

Abstract

In this article, the author discusses how and to what extent institutional context and personal religious beliefs influence empirical research in the sociology of religion. Historically the discipline was connected to strategic work in Christian churches. Sociology of religion has become secularized as a discipline, but still there are many institutional and personal connections between churches and doing sociological research on religion. The other side of the coin seems to be that empirically oriented sociologists in general traditionally have been relatively secular. This may have led to ignoring religion as a social factor for long periods, and possibly to exaggerating the significance of religion in recent years. The author finds no deterministic connection between institutional affiliation and personal beliefs on the one hand, and the way sociology of religion is done on the other. However, there may be some elective affinity between personal experience and the topics chosen for studies, more than the answers given to research questions. The author recommends an increased reflexivity while doing research.

In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends
Author: Pål Repstad

Abstract

The article presents an overview of changing beliefs about Hell and perdition in Norway over the last four or five decades. Today a minority of the Norwegian population believes that after death people go either to Hell or to Heaven. These beliefs were shared by a majority in earlier times, but the percentage decreased quickly in the 1970s. This was the case also for members of the Church of Norway, while many members in minority churches still share beliefs in Hell and perdition. Pastors in minority churches also share such beliefs but add that they do not preach about such topics any more. In the Church of Norway, there is a doctrinal diversity in this area. Furthermore, all pastors and clergy underline that they do not believe in Hell as a place with eternal physical pain. The author lists several possible causes behind the changes, such as liberal schools and media, as well as increased acknowledgement in churches of the historical relativity of doctrines. This sociological essay ends with some challenges directed to theologians.

In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends
In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends

Abstract

Grundetjern has participated for two consecutive summers in a pilgrimage from Hovden, a well-known ski resort in Norway, to a famous stave church in Røldal. This is a march in the mountains, 75 kilometers long. The pilgrimage takes four days, and the nights are spent in simple cabins. In addition to semi-structured interviews with participants, informal talks along the track and shared bodily experiences with the participants were important sources for the research. The pilgrimage is organized by the Church of Norway, but open to all, and the participants had varying world-views and different attitudes towards Christianity. Physical hardships created a close fellowship, and spontaneous rituals occurred, such as throwing stones in a river as a symbol of leaving old problems behind. Nature itself was an important source of experience, and the intensity of the spiritual experience varied from person to person, not necessarily following doctrinal boundaries. The authors see the increasing popularity of pilgrimages as part of a change in current religious life with more weight on experiences and less on doctrinal teachings.

In: Political Religion, Everyday Religion: Sociological Trends