Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World

Paperback | March 7, 2013

byAbby Day

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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 howpeople '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 NorthAmerican 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' inanthropology 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 richerunderstanding of belief than conventional religious/secular distinctions.

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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 howpeople 'believe in belonging', choosing reli...

Abby Day is Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sussex, UK.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pagesPublished:March 7, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199673551

ISBN - 13:9780199673551

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Table of Contents

1: Methods and theoretical frameworks1. Genealogies of belief in sociology and anthropology: transcending disciplinary boundaries2. A research journey begins2: Cosmologies of the mainstream3. Believing in belonging: the cultural act of claiming identity4. Youth and belief: belonging to connected selves5. The sensuous social supernatural6. Believing in fate: covering the cracks in belonging7. Boundaries of belonging: doing unto ourselves3: Relocating belief and belonging8. Theorising belief: an holistic, organic, seven-dimensional model9. Understanding Christian nominalism: rethinking Christian identity10. Conclusion: relocating belief to the social

Editorial 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... Thistheoretical 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 isnecessarily less significant, but that it is differently significant. At Day's end, we all have a new beginning." --Jay Demerath, University of Massachusetts Amherst