Dilemmas in Participant Observation in Religious Contexts

Religion as Relation - Studying Religion in Context - Peter Berger

Kim Knibbe [+-]
University of Groningen
Kim Knibbe is Associate Professor Anthropology and Sociology of Religion at Groningen University. She is currently directing the project "Sexuality, Religion and Secularism" with Rachel Spronk (funded by NWO). Previous research focused on Catholicism and spirituality in the Netherlands and on Nigerian Pentecostalism in Europe and the Netherlands. She has also published a series of theoretical and methodological reflections on studying religion. Her most recent co-edited books and special issues are Secular Societies, Spiritual Selves? (with Anna Fedele, 2020) and ‘Theorizing Lived Religion’ (with Helena Kupari, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2020).


The book is intended for undergraduate students in religious studies and anyone else interested in the study of religion. It differs from most other introductions and handbooks in that it draws on ongoing research to show ‘how’ researchers approach their topics, thus providing orientation in a multidisciplinary context without attempting to homogenize the field.  Religion is studied from a multitude of approaches and methodologies, also represented in this volume: history, anthropology, philosophy, sociology, psychology and the academic study of religion. The introduction therefore focuses on providing students with an overview of the issues that are at stake in choosing an approach to studying religion in a multidisciplinary context: how one can learn to recognize how scholars conceptualize and delineate the object of study, what theory is, to recognize on what level of analysis research may take place, and the ‘problem of belief’ in the study of religion. The author of each chapter discusses material from their own research to demonstrate the approach and methodology they apply to produce and analyse the material they work with. This allows students to orient themselves with regard to the various methodologies and perspectives that they can deploy to formulate and answer their own research questions. 

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Knibbe, Kim. Dilemmas in Participant Observation in Religious Contexts. Religion as Relation - Studying Religion in Context. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Nov 2021. ISBN 9781800500709. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=42559. Date accessed: 24 Sep 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.42559. Nov 2021

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