2. Cognitively Informed Ethnography: Using Mixed Methods to Capture the Complexity of Religious Phenomena in Two Ecologically Valid Settings

Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion - Armin W. Geertz

Hugh Daniel Turpin [+-]
Queen's University Belfast / University of Oxford

Lecturer in Anthropology, Queen's University Belfast

Research Affiliate, Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion, University of Oxford

Mark Stanford [+-]
University of Oxford
Mark Stanford is a Research Affiliate in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford.

Description

Here, we present two case studies which combine ethnographic fieldwork with quantitative methods to describe religious behaviour in two ecologically valid settings. Case Study 1 describes the use of mixed methods to explore whether different types of supernatural agents are associated with different categories of moral transgression in Burma, a syncretic and multi-religious environment which naturally lends itself to this question. In this case study, ethnography plays a key role in designing appropriate questionnaire measures, generating hypotheses, and interpreting the behaviour of experimental participants. Case Study 2 describes the use of mixed methods to investigate the interrelationships between religious scandals and the emergence of ex-Catholicism in Ireland, a country noted for its recent and rapid secularization. Here, ethnography plays a key role in elucidating the limitations of early experimental designs and generating further hypotheses, while surveying in turn addresses issues of representativeness in the fieldwork. Together, these case studies serve to illustrate a number of advantages and challenges that come with adopting a mixed methods approach. We close by outlining four reasons for mixing qualitative and quantitative methods when studying religious cognition in the field, using the case studies above as examples. These are: 1) methodological triangulation, 2) assessment of instruments and procedures, 3) qualitative/quantitative iteration, and 4) capturing the current context in scenarios where existing ethnographic research is sparse or deficient.

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Citation

Turpin, Hugh; Stanford, Mark. 2. Cognitively Informed Ethnography: Using Mixed Methods to Capture the Complexity of Religious Phenomena in Two Ecologically Valid Settings. Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Aug 2022. ISBN 9781800501614. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=43002. Date accessed: 27 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43002. Aug 2022

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