Research Methods for the study of religion

An online training resource

Conceptualising religion

The meaning and significance of the term 'religion' is the subject of extensive debate. We cannot assume that the understanding of 'religion' we bring to our research is universal or self-evident. How we conceptualise religion (and other related categories) has significant implications for how we theorise our work, design our projects and make knowledge-claims. Reflecting on our concepts of religion is therefore a fundamental task for good research in this field.

This exercise by Kim Knott will help you to become more critically aware of how you use 'religion' in your work.


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Key Reading

Timothy Fitzgerald (2000) The Ideology of Religious Studies, New York: Oxford University Press, pp.3-32.

In this chapter, Fitzgerald writes:

'As a contribution to this reconceptualization [of religion], I propose that religious studies be rethought and represented as cultural studies, understood as the study of the institutions and the institutionalized values of specific societies, and the relation between those institutionalized values and the legitimation of power. (p.10)'

On what grounds would you agree or disagree with his statement?


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Last Updated: 15/09/2011