Jolyon Mitchell on Religion, Violence and the Media

Discussions of religion in the media nowadays frequently revolve around issues of violence and social unrest. Religions and media can become collaborators in promoting peace and opening negotiations; at the same time the media can become host to extremist narratives which may incite violence. Does the media have a responsibility to promote peace?
David Robertson
jolyon mitchell
media
podcasts
religion
violence

Roundtable: Can We Trust the Social Sciences?

In another roundtable gathering, conversation ranges from the strengths and weaknesses of such data, whether there is more to the social sciences than quantitative methods, and the place of the social sciences within a multi-disciplinary Religious Studies field. Can we trust social sciences when we study religion? Is a social scientific approach the future of religious studies?
Census
Christopher Cotter
David Robertson
Demography
Ethan Quillen
Katie Aston
Kevin Whitesides
Matthew Francis
religion
Religious Studies
Social Sciences
Sociology
Surveys

Historical Approaches to (Losing) Religion

How can we use historical approaches in the study of religion? More specifically, can we use historical approaches to understand why people are losing it? Professor Callum Brown tells us why historical approaches have much to tell us about religious change. How can we use historical approaches in the study of religion?
callum brown
Christopher Cotter
History
quantitative
scotland
Secularism
Secularization

Religion After Darwin

Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species was published in 1859, and had an immediate and dramatic effect on religious narratives. Traditional religions were forced to adopt an evolutionary worldview, or to go on the offensive; whereas New Religious Movements like Wicca or New Age adopted an environmental concern as a central part of their belief. And possibly, ...
bron taylor
Christopher Cotter
dark green religion
darwin
David Robertson
environmentalism
green religion
nature
podcasts

The Secularisation Thesis

The secularisation thesis - the idea that traditional religions are in terminal decline in the industrialised world - was perhaps the central debate in the sociology of religion in the second half of the 20th century. Scholars such as Steve Bruce, Rodney Stark and Charles Taylor argued whether religion was becoming less important to individuals, or that only the authority of religions in the public sphere was declining.
David Robertson
lancaster
Linda Woodhead
religion and society
Religious Decline
Secularization
transcript

Psychological Approaches to the Study of Religion

"In practice, experimentation requires much effort, imagination, and resources. The subject of religion seems too complex and too ‘soft’ for the laboratory. It is filled with much fantasy and feelings, two topics which academic psychology finds hard to approach." Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin, and Michael Argyle. The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. London: Routledge, 1997, p. 47.
Atheism
Beit-Hallahmi
Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
Christopher Cotter
Israel
New York
psychology
religion

Fiction-Based Religions

The majority of those who identified as a Jedi on the 2001 UK census were mounting a more-or-less satirical or playful act of non-compliance; nevertheless, a certain proportion of those were telling the truth. How does a religion constructed from the fictional Star Wars universe problematise how we conceptualise other religions, and the stories they involve?
arhuus
Christopher Cotter
fiction
Fiction-based Religions
Invented Religions
jedi
Markus Davidsen
Science Fiction
Tolkien

Doing Anthropological Fieldwork

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David Robertson
“If we want to discover what [wo]man amounts to, we can only find it in what [wo]men are: and what [wo]men are, above all other things, is various. It is in understanding that variousness – its range, its nature, its basis, and its implications – that we shall come to construct a concept of human nature that, more than a statistical shadow, and less than a primitivists dream, ...
anthropology
Bettina Schmidt
Christopher Cotter
condomble
David Robertson
Fieldwork
podcasts

Roundtable: What is the Future of Religious Studies?

After this week’s podcast, which involved eight scholars giving their views on the future of Religious Studies, there was really only one way we could create a suitably collective and varied response – six postgrads sitting around a table, accompanied by pink gin and our trusty dictaphone. Conversation ranges from the public perception of what Religious Studies does, ...
Christopher Cotter
David Robertson
Ethan Quillen
Higher Education
Jonathan Tuckett
Kevin Whitesides
Liam Sutherland
Religious Studies

What is the Future of Religious Studies?

This week we decided to do something a bit different. Every time David and Chris have conducted an interview, they have been asking the interviewees an additional question: “What is the Future of Religious Studies?” The result is this highly stimulating compilation of differing perspectives and levels of optimism The result is this highly stimulating compilation of differing perspectives and levels of optimism on what has become one of the most hotly debated topics in the academic study of religion at the start of the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Armin Geertz
Bettina Schmidt
Carole Cusack
Christopher Cotter
David Robertson
Donald Wiebe
George Chryssides
Graham Harvey
Higher Education
James Cox
Markus Davidsen
Religious Studies

Substantive Religion and the Functionalist Sacred

Could the difficulties associated with the academic conceptualisation of "religion" be overcome by changing our focus instead to "the sacred"? Jay Demerath tells Chris why we should define religion substantively - that is, in terms of specific attributes like rituals, deities or dogmas - but the sacred in terms of the function it serves in the lives of individuals and cultures.
Christopher Cotter
jay demerath
sacralization
Sacred
Secularization
Sociology

The Changing Nature of Religion

In the 1960s, most sociologists consciously or unconsciously bought into idea of the 'death of god' - religion became effectively invisible to academia. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, a number of events - most notably the 'Satanic Verses' controversy - dramatically increased the 'visibility' of religion: it became a political problem. Now, in the 21st century, ...
change
Christopher Cotter
Exeter
grace davie
podcasts
religion
Sociology

Youth, Sexuality and Religion

The Religion, Youth and Sexuality: A Multi-faith Exploration project, based at the University of Nottingham, looked at 18 to 25 year-olds from a variety of faith backgrounds in order to understand attitudes and practices around sexuality and how this was negotiated in relation to religious traditions. Dr Sarah-Jane Page, one of the research fellows, ...
Christopher Cotter
gender
religion
Sarah-jane Page
Sexuality
UK
Youth

The Insider/Outsider Problem

The Insider/Outsider problem, relating to where scholars position themselves relating to the subject matter (whatever that may be), is one of the most perennial problems in the academic study of religion. Does one have to be a member of a community for your testimony about that community to be valid? Or does your membership of the community invalidate your objectivity?
anthropology
bias
Christopher Cotter
George Chryssides
insider/outsider
James Cox
Religious Studies

Animism

Animism is often taken as referring to worldviews in which spirits are to be found not only in humans, but potentially in animals, in plants, in mountains and even natural forces like the wind. It was of central importance in early anthropological conceptions of religion, most notably in the work of E. B. Tylor.
animism
David Robertson
Graham Harvey
podcasts