Studying Lived Religion
Contexts and Practices
Published by: NYU Press
288 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm
- ISBN: 9781479804344
- Published: November 2021
Offers an overarching definition and framework for the study of religion as it manifests itself in everyday life
Look around you as you walk down the street; somewhere, usually hidden in plain sight, there will be traces of religion. Perhaps it is the person who walks past with a Christian tattoo or a Muslim hijab. Perhaps it is the poster announcing a charity auction at the local synagogue. Or perhaps you open your Instagram feed to see what inspiring images and meditations have been posted by spiritual guides to help start the day.
Studying Lived Religion examines religious practices wherever they happen—both within religious spaces and in everyday life. Although the study of lived religion has been around for over two decades, there has not been an agreed-upon definition of what it encompasses, and we have lacked a sociological theory to frame the way it is studied. This book offers a definition that expands lived religion’s geographic scope and a framework of seven dimensions around which we can analyze lived religious practice. Examples from multiple traditions and disciplines show the range of methods available for such studies, offering practical tips for how to begin. The volume opens up how we understand the category of lived religion, erasing the artificial divide between what happens in congregations and other religious institutions and what happens in other settings.
Nancy Tatom Ammerman draws on examples ranging from Singapore to Accra to Chicago to show how deeply religion permeates everyday lives. In revealing the often overlooked ways that religion shapes human experience, she invites us all into new ways of seeing the world around us.
This is a great book! Nancy Ammerman gives us a systematic framework for studying ‘lived religion’ – how real people ‘do’ religion in their everyday lives. Religion happens all around us: not just in churches, mosques, and synagogues, but also on mountaintops, in deep relationships, and in the talk and acts that fill our taken-for-granted days. Through many examples, Ammerman shows us seven dimensions along which everyday religion varies. From different forms of embodiment to different emotions, aesthetics, and moral sensibilities, we learn that religion is far more complex than we imagined – and far more interesting to study. ~James Spickard, University of Redlands
This book offers both a theoretical underpinning for the sociology of lived religion and a useful guide for carrying out practice in the field. Either one of these would make a significant intellectual contribution. Nancy Ammerman's accomplishment of both objectives makes this book pathbreaking. ~Meredith McGuire, Professor Emerita, Sociology and Anthropology, Trinity University
Meticulous, comprehensive, and intelligent, this marvelous book is a must-read for everyone interested in lived religion. Ammerman’s alertness to case studies is matched by her alertness to the expansive repertoire of methods that animate this body of work. ~David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School
A master class in thinking and writing about subtle religion by a rare scholar who knows how to talk across disciplines and in ordinary language. “Pay attention,” Ammerman says, not just to institutional leaders and official doctrines but also to the eruption of the uncanny in unexpected places—in the stories we tell, stuff we hold dear, and the messy social circumstances in which it’s all embedded. Sage wisdom here for scholars, journalists, and anyone else on the lookout for intimations of the "spiritual dimension" breaking into the everyday. ~Stephen Prothero, C. Allyn and Elizabeth V. Russell Professor of Religion in America at Boston University.