Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
RN34_03: Discussing old and new religious topics II
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Gladys Ganiel, Queen's University Belfast
Location: BS.4.05A
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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The Religious Stranger: a comparative approach between Spinello and Foncebadón

Costanza Gasparo1, Mario Venturella1, Niccolò Sirleto1, Francesco Sacchetti2

1Piccolo Opificio Sociologico, Italy; 2Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy

In this work we intend to compare two different religious phenomena: the annual meeting of an NRM (Ramtha lighting school) and one of the most famous itineraries in the world, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. In particular, Spinello and Foncebadon were taken into consideration because they have undergone a strong economic redevelopment linked to a religious phenomenon. Spinello is a small village in the Tuscan-Romagnolo Apennines that has become a spiritual destination for the School and has been characterized by two distinct and connected phenomena: the stable arrival of about twenty families belonging to the School (who bought and readjusted the houses of the place) and the moment in which the international meeting of the School is organized, here thousands of people come from all over Europe for a week. Foncebadón is a small "ghost" country of 25 residents in the Spanish province of León, which, thanks to the Way, has begun to attract millions of modern pilgrims and has come into contact with a "European reality" hitherto unknown.

This continuous flow has created a series "religious stranger" figures, who are perceived differently in the two countries. In the first case the integration is complete; in the other there is always a line of identity and religious demarcation between the inhabitant and the foreigner / tourist.

We therefore intend to highlight this demarcation between social groups, that derives from the different interpretations of the Stranger.

Writing Justice/ Performing Injustice: Reflections on Research, Publicity and the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair

John Holmwood1, Helen Monks2, Matt Woodhead2

1University of Nottingham, United Kingdom; 2LUNG Theatre Company

The paper discusses issues of public communication in the context of the rise of populism and the critique of experts. It does so in terms of three kinds of ‘reporting’ and their associated research methodologies and ethics, namely journalism, public sociology and verbatim theatre. The issues it raises are exemplified through the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair (about the claimed 'Islamification' of schools) which has been subject to extensive media reporting, public inquiries of various kinds as well as legal processes. In that sense, there have been various courts of public opinion where the affair has been staged. In the paper the affair is understood as an injustice visited upon a community of British Muslims and the teachers and governors responsible for their schools, an injustice that derived largely as a consequence of provocative media reporting and peremptory Government action. The article addresses the role of public sociology as a project of writing for justice in the context of widespread Islamophobia and secular criticism of religion, including in the self-understanding of sociologists.. It also reflects on the role of verbatim theatre in staging the injustice for public reflection through a play by LUNG theatre group which was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2018 (where it won the Amnesty International freedom of Expression award) and will be on tour in British theatres from October 2019.. John Holmwood was an expert witness for the defence in court cases arising from the affair, Helen Monks and Matt Woodhead are script writers and directors of the play.

New Patterns of Mmebership? Participation Theory in the Study of Modern Faith Communities in Finland.

Pietari Hannikainen

University of Helsinki, Finland

There has arisen a new movement within the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland during last few decades that is often referred as the "community movement". It has drawn much of its influences from the renewal movements of Church of England, like the Fresh Experessions of Church. My study focuses on their new patterns of membership in the context of the the collapse of the traditional Nordic patterns of Church-membership and "belonging". The study builds on the paradigm of religious democratization and utilizes the theoretical framework of Participation theory in developing new measuring equipment for the study of these patterns. In my paper I shall present some of the findings that confirm the pattern of participatory membership as a vital part of the emerging movement. In my paper I shall also adress some of the issues that need to be adressed when studying religious movements through Participation theory..

Between Dark and Green Religion: The Spirituality of the Progressive Ecological Milieu in Switzerland

Irene Becci1, Christophe Monnot2,1, Boris Wernli1

1University of Lausanne; 2University of Strasbourg

Why do people in a highly secularized society have no hesitation to speak about spirituality when they talk about the environment or climate change? Are we witnessing a “return of the religious” or, more specifically, a spiritualization of ecology? Are we witnessing a turning point in ecological activism where spiritual claims are more and more common? In this presentation, we shall present a quantitative analysis of data collected in the Swiss Household Panel survey and discuss the results, also in the light of insights gained from qualitative data (interviews, participant observation and documentary analysis) gathered by engaging with ecological militants in Switzerland. Our findings show that, instead of a return of the religious or a spiritualization of ecology, we are witnessing the emergence of a milieu that shares some progressive, ecological and spiritual values. This milieu shares values which are about the protection of the environment with stakeholders who do not self-identify as religious, but practise meditation and are politically on the left.