Knowing, Being, and Doing Religion
Introducing an Analytical Model for Researching Vernacular Religion
This article introduces a new analytical model for researching vernacular religion, which aims to capture and describe everyday religiosity as an interplay between knowing, being, and doing religion. It suggests three processes that tie this triad together: continuity; change; and context. The model is envisaged as a tool for tracing vernacular religion in ethnographic data in a multidimensional yet structured framework that is sensitive to historical data and cultural context, but also to individual narratives and nuances. It highlights the relationship between self-motivated modes of religiosity and institutional structures, as well as influences from secular sources and various traditions and worldviews.
The article is based on an ongoing research project focusing on everyday Judaism in Finland. The ethnographic examples illustrate how differently these dynamics play out in different life narratives, depending on varying emphases, experiences, and situations. By bringing together major themes recognized as relevant in previous research and offering an analytical tool for detecting them in ethnographic materials, the model has the potential to create new openings for comparative research, because it facilitates the interlinking of datasets across contexts and cultures. The article concludes that the model can be developed into a more generally applicable analytical tool for structuring and elucidating contemporary ethnographies, mirroring a world of rapid cultural and religious change.
Copyright (c) 2020 Ruth Illman and Mercédesz Czimbalmos
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