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Real Religion And Fuzzy Spirituality? Taking Sides In The Sociology Of Religion

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates a puzzling disjuncture: between what recent empirical research is revealing about spirituality 'on the ground', and the way in which a number of influential sociological studies of religion have characterized such spirituality. It explores the tension between what can be called the 'inadequacy approach' to spirituality, and the picture which emerges from much recent research. The chapter suggests that the divergence can be explained in terms of the enduring presence of a submerged norm of 'real religion' which continues to exercise a powerful influence within the sociology of religion. The author draws attention to the mutually-constitutive opposition between 'religion' and 'spirituality', and concludes that it remains influential within the sociology of religion. He aims to critique misleading accounts of spirituality to draw attention away from them and towards the emerging contours of a more workable and 'un-fuzzy' characterization of spirituality.

Keywords: fuzzy spirituality; real religion; sociology of religion



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