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What Counts as Religion in Sociology?: The Problem of Religiosity in Sociological Methodology
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Welfare and Life-course)
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to contribute to the ongoing critical discussion within the sociology of religion by focusing on the seldom considered perspective of methodology. As such, it consists of a theoretical part that problematizes the ways in which religion has been analyzed, and an empirical part that develops how religiosity can be approached in sociological studies. The thesis seeks, in other words, to contribute to how sociologists analyze religion, and addresses a research problem that has gained new relevance in the aftermath of criticism of the secularization paradigm. In the theoretical part, the assumptions underlying the ways in which religion is studied are revisited, as is the impact that these have had as faras the empirical study of religion is concerned in one of the countries often assumed to be secularized – i.e. Sweden. The empirical part of the thesis is comprised of three studies based on the latest European Value Survey, qualitative interviews and the Blogosphere on religion-related content (n=220000 blog posts). The results from these studies are used to reconsider the religiousmainstream, the “package”-like assumptions often made about affiliation, belief and practice, as well as the fact that the study of religiosity tends to be relegated to the periphery of the imagination of sociologists of religion. The thesis proposes that if we want to study religion in a lay people sensitive way we cannot continue to overlook their understandings of the sacred, the ways in which they regard their own religiosity, and the fact that their affiliation,belief and practice do not necessarily fit the expectations of established ways of analyzing religion.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Sociologiska institutionen , 2014. , 269 p.
Keyword [en]
sociology of religion, theory and method, religious affiliation, religious beliefs, religious practice, religious mainstream, sacred, religiosity, spirituality, secularization, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences Sociology
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-229776ISBN: 978-91-506-2409-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-229776DiVA: diva2:737544
Public defence
2014-09-26, University Main Buildning, hall IX, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 14:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-09-05 Created: 2014-08-13 Last updated: 2015-02-11

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Willander, Erika
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