Social Constructionism

What is social constructionism, and how is it important to the study of religion? Titus Hjelm explains how approaches which see social realities as built from discourses challenge how we think about ontology, epistemology and power.

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  • What is RSP?

    The Religious Studies Project (RSP) is an international collaborative enterprise producing weekly podcasts with leading scholars on the social-scientific study of religion. Find out more…

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  • Experiences Deemed Religious from Micro and Qualitative to Macro and Quantitative

    With the strength of a research method, there is a corresponding weakness. And these weaknesses turn out to be overcome by the strengths of other, “opposite” kinds of methods.

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    Religious Experience: Understanding and Explaining (Video)

    The RSP collaborated with Society for the Scientific Study of Religion at their 2014 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis to offer and video record an interdisciplinary panel on the study of religion. Each of the papers presented are not only from different fields in the study of religion but also methodologically or theoretically apply an interdisciplinary approach. The authors represent the best in their fields. Some are established scholars with a body of work while others are up-and-coming talent.

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    Identity Crisis: the Nones and Habitual Christianity

    Many of my participants felt that familiarity with Christianity permitted them to be critical in a way that they could not with other religious traditions.

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    Posted in Features by Katie Aston

    Is Britain still a Christian country?

    In what sense can a country be “Christian”? Today on the Religious Studies Project, we welcome back Professor Linda Woodhead to discuss and interrogate the question “Is Britain Still a Christian Country?”, the topic of her recent Croall Lectures at the University of Edinburgh.

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    Dressing in Skins of Gods: New Approaches to Aztec Religion

    Recent scholarship on Mesoamerican religions has been influenced by Mircea Eliade in a persistent fashion that has yet to be critically addressed.

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    Posted in Features by John Hoopes

    The Fate of Earthly Things

    In this interview, Molly Bassett begins by introducing us to the world of Middle America, the sources scholars use today to study this period and its cultures, and then describes the benefits and challenges of teaching with Meso-American materials. Her students learn not only to challenge the categories scholars use to describe religious ideas like “god,” but also the relationship between various methodological approaches and the limits of scholarship.

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    Outside the Panels: Comics and Context

    Comic books frequently include alternative or heterodox religious ideas, something underscored by the fact that two of the most acclaimed writers working today (Alan Moore and Grant Morrison) are practising magicians, and their work frequently contains references to their practises.

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    Comics and the Superhero Afterlife

    In this wide-ranging interview with A. David Lewis, comic books are presented as an irreplaceable cultural medium for engaging with issues of mortality, identity, subjectivity, and cosmology. With an overwhelming slate of comic book driven television series (Walking Dead, Gotham, Flash, Green Arrow) and a rising tide of superhero films and franchises (X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers), there has never been a more essential time to recognize the cultural merits of comic books and seek out their academic rewards.

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    “For a Secret Teaching, They Sure Do Write A Lot About It” – Is There a Gurdjieff Studies or only a Gurdjieff Industry?

    While there is little disagreement as to the basic content of Gurdjieff’s spiritual teaching, there is currently no concrete proposal about the place of Gurdjieff within the broadly scientific study of religions.

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    Posted in Features by David Pecotic

    Gurdjieff and the Study of Contemporary Religion

    David Robertson speaks to two remarkable scholars, Carole Cusack and Steven Sutcliffe, on the significance of G. I. Gurdjieff to the study of religion. How do we approach figures like Gurdjieff whose legacies (and archives) are tightly controlled by their followers, and who often aren’t seen as worthy of study by the academy and publishers?

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    Religious Authority in a Post-Religious Society

    Since the 1980s, social and economic pressures to stay within mainstream society have become more prominent, and spiritually minded individuals often seek more limited, loosely bonded participation in New Age-style modes of thought.

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    Posted in Features by Avery Morrow

    Religion and Authority in Asia

    Given its contextual and perspectival malleability, the notion of ‘authority’, and even more so of ‘religious authority’, is challenging to define and to study. In today’s interview with Paulina Kolata, Dr Erica Baffelli discusses the notion of authority and charismatic leadership in the context of her research on New and ‘New’ New religions in contemporary Japan.

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    The Gamrie Brethren: At the Heart of Cosmic Struggle and the Fringes of the Imagined Community, By Liam Sutherland

    I hope I can place Webster’s research [on the Scottish Brethren] in the wider social and historical context, the ‘national level’ alongside the ‘local’ and ‘global’ ones.

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    The Brethren in Scotland

    Gardenstoun is a fishing village in the North-East of Scotland with a population of only 700 and six churches, four of which are branches of the Plymouth Brethren. Anthropology “at home” – within our own culture, rather than that of some exotic Other – undermines many of the assumptions that the study of religion is based upon, and has the power to make “the strange familiar, and the familiar strange”.

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