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?

About this episode

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. Callum Brown is Professor of Religious and Cultural History at the University of Dundee. He is a social and cultural historian with special research interests in religion and secularisation in the post 1750 period – especially in the 20th and 21st centuries – mostly in Scotland and Britain, but also Canada, USA and Ireland. He is currently involved in the project A Social and Cultural History of Modern Humanism, covering Scotland, UK, Ireland, Canada and USA and using especially oral history focusing on the social and cultural origins of individuals’ humanism, looking at issues like family background, religious experiences, and cultural alignments. He is also about to publish Religion and the Demographic Revolution: Women and Secularisation in Canada, Ireland, UK and USA since the 1960s (London, Boydell & Brewer), which looks at demographic behaviour in the North Atlantic world, and the correlations between gender change, the sexual revolution, changes in patterns of marriage and cohabitation, and changes in religious ritual (such as religious solemnisation of marriage, baptism and funeral rites), and incorporates considerable statistical research.  You may also be interested in our recent interview with Professor Linda Woodhead on the Secularisation Thesis, and Bjoern Mastiaux’s essay on the same topic. For an interesting response essay to this podcast, please see Tim Hutchings’ A Response to Callum Brown: Connecting “When” and “Why” in Digital Religion. For a more ‘informal’ response, you can listen to our roundtable discussion session on the question Can We Trust the Social Sciences?.

This episode has not been transcribed yet. 

Consider a donation to pay for the cost of editing a transcript?

Related Resources

Unbelief as a Nuanced Phenomenon: The Sociality of Nonreligion across Europe

Podcast

Unbelief has often been defined as either ignorance or rejection of religious systems, but this week's guests David Herbert and Josh Bullock see far more diversity in the ways one can be nonreligious based on their research on Gen Y in Europe.
The Invention of the Secular Academy

Podcast

The Religious Studies Project, as an academic endeavour studying religion, is of course devoutly secular. In fact, we tend to take the connection between secularity and the academy completely for granted. But was this always the case? If not, how did it become so? And what does secular mean in this context?
Religion, Spirituality and Health

Podcast

Religion, spiritualty and health – oh my! In this day and age, we might be inclined to ask if these three words, when combined, can contribute anything resembling a positive health outcome. In other words, can being religious or spiritual actually contribute to an individual’s overall health? Dr. Koenig answers the questions with a resounding yes!

Other EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY

After the World Religions Paradigm…?

Podcast

In this week's podcast, We discussed some of the problems with the World Religion paradigm, most notably its colonial heritage and Christocentrism. Given its dominance in the public perception of "Religion", however, can we as teachers get away from it? Is there a pedagogical approach which focusses on issues of power and domination, and challenges, rather than reinforces, ...
Mormonism, Growth and Decline

Podcast

Can Mormonism be described as a New Religious Movement? Is there a unified phenomenon which can be classified as Mormonism? Is Mormonism to be considered as a form of Christianity? This week, Chris is joined by Ryan Cragun – Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Tampa, Florida – to discuss not only these conceptual issues,...
Evangelical Yoga: Cultural Appropriation and Translation in American Religions

Podcast

In this interview, we discuss yoga as a new American phenomenon and the way that some evangelical Christians practice it. Brown provides a historic overview of bodily–religious practices in America, starting with mesmerism, occultism, osteopathy, and chiropractic in the nineteenth century.
What is the Future of Religious Studies?

Podcast

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.
The Therwil Affair: Handshakes in Swiss Schools

Podcast

In this podcast, taking place on the last day of the Annual EASR Conference in Bern, Dr Philipp Hetmanczyk and Martin Bürgin of Zurich University talk to Thomas White about the Therwil Affair, a controversy that emerged in 2016 after two Swiss Muslim schoolboys declined to shake hands with their female teacher.
NSRN Annual Lecture 2012 – Matthew Engelke: In spite of Christianity

Podcast

What do we talk about when we talk about religion? What do we recognize as essential and specific to any given faith, and why? In this lecture, I address these questions by drawing on fieldwork among humanists in Britain, paying particular attention to humanism’s relation to Christianity.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The views expressed in podcasts, features and responses are the views of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Religious Studies Project or our sponsors. The Religious Studies Project is produced by the Religious Studies Project Association (SCIO), a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (charity number SC047750).