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Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World (Hardback)
  • Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World (Hardback)

Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World (Hardback)

Hardback 240 Pages / Published: 06/10/2011
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Believing in Belonging draws on empirical research exploring mainstream religious belief and identity in Euro-American countries. Starting from a qualitative study based in northern England, and then broadening the data to include other parts of Europe and North America, Abby Day explores how people 'believe in belonging', choosing religious identifications to complement other social and emotional experiences of 'belongings'. The concept of 'performative belief' helps explain how otherwise non-religious people can bring into being a Christian identity related to social belongings. What is often dismissed as 'nominal' religious affiliation is far from an empty category, but one loaded with cultural 'stuff' and meaning. Day introduces an original typology of natal, ethnic and aspirational nominalism that challenges established disciplinary theory in both the European and North American schools of the sociology of religion that assert that most people are 'unchurched' or 'believe without belonging' while privately maintaining beliefs in God and other 'spiritual' phenomena. This study provides a unique analysis and synthesis of anthropological and sociological understandings of belief and proposes a holistic, organic, multidimensional analytical framework to allow rich cross cultural comparisons. Chapters focus in particular on: the genealogies of 'belief' in anthropology and sociology, methods for researching belief without asking religious questions, the acts of claiming cultural identity, youth, gender, the 'social' supernatural, fate and agency, morality and a development of anthropocentric and theocentric orientations that provides a richer understanding of belief than conventional religious/secular distinctions.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199577873
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 434 g
Dimensions: 222 x 149 x 35 mm

I find the book highly interesting in particular its methodology and its empirically-based conclusions. It is an important contribution to the current debates within the sociology of religion It is also an easily approachable book, which can be read by anyone who is interested in research on belief * Lise Kanckos, Approaching Religion *
[a] subtle and intelligent social study of belief and identity * Canon Robin Gill, Church Times *
Days diagnosis of a residual Christian identity in present-day mainstream Britain given little close attention by other scholars is certainly striking Abby Days tightly organized interpretative model will provoke fruitful debate. * Jonathan Benthall, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute *
fascinating monograph ... Abby Day writes as an academic sociologist and an active researcher. Her findings are a helpful contribution to the sociology of secularisation; they open an intriguing window into believing in Britain today. * Glen Marshall, Regent's Reviews *
Scholars have long erred in taking religions at their word. Now perhaps no longer. In this path breaking work, Abby Day shows that religious beliefs are far less salient than religious belonging. Religious doctrine and ritual pale in importance beside religious identity and community... This theoretical breakthrough rides a methodological wave. Instead of prompting her respondents by asking directly about their religious beliefs and belongings, she is careful to embed the issues within the context of their broader convictions and commitments. The point is not that religion is necessarily less significant, but that it is differently significant. At Day's end, we all have a new beginning. * Prof. Jay Demerath, University of Massachusetts Amherst *
Believing in Belonging provides us with a new approach to theorizing belief, making a place for both religious and social understandings of this concept ... the typology of belief serves as a useful tool for future scholars wanting to take seriously the challenge of studying this topic. The book makes an important contribution to the literature and moves us forward in our study of beliefs and the roles they play in peoples lives. * Melinda Lundquist Denton, Clemson University *

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