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The In-between Church: A Study of the Church of England's Role in Society through the Prism of Welfare
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis has been to explore the role of institutional religion in western Europe between individual and society. This is achieved through an empirical study of the role of the Church of England at local level, using the area of social welfare as the prism through which broader issues of the place of the Church in society can be brought to light.

At the heart of this thesis lies a case study of the town of Darlington in the North East of England. This is set against a background of a detailed description of the situation regarding religion and welfare in England and of the organisation and situation of the Church at national level. The case study uses a variety of qualitative methods to assess the Church's role in welfare at local level and the expectations and perceptions of its involvement in this sphere held by representatives of the churches, local authorities, voluntary organisations and town residents.

The role of the Church of England in its national and local context is therefore used as one example which can shed light on issues pertinent to a broader European one. To this end the results of the case study are compared with the situation in Sweden to tease out the extent to which conclusions pertaining to the established church in England can also be applied in a wider European context.

The study concludes that the Church has a continued role to play in welfare both in terms of practical provision and social activism. It reveals that the Church is, at one and the same time, both seen as one of many organisations in civil society and also perceived to have a particular part to play in society at local level. This continuing though changing role 'in-between' individual and society can be further specified as including three dimensions: mediator, neutral ground and critical voice.

This suggests that a distinct role in society is also possible for other religious institutions in Europe today within their national contexts, as representatives and upholders of overarching common values in the public sphere. It indicates that although the relationships between individuals and institutional religion and the role religions have to play in society today are ambiguous, they are by no means absent. Thereby the study engages with and contributes to the development of the theoretical debate concerning social change in late modern society, the continued role of institutional religions in the public sphere and the relevance of the secularisation paradigm.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2009. , p. 306
Series
Studies in Religion and Society, ISSN 1654-630X ; 2
Keywords [en]
Church of England, contemporary society, Europe, individual, institutional religion, late modernity, religious change, social welfare, welfare systems
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Sociology of Religion
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-105155ISBN: 978-91-554-7559-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-105155DiVA, id: diva2:222712
Public defence
2009-10-02, Geijersalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3P, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
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Projects
Impact of ReligionAvailable from: 2009-08-20 Created: 2009-06-01 Last updated: 2012-11-06Bibliographically approved

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