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When Acceptance Reflects Disrespect

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The Methodological Contradictions of Accepting Participant Statements

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

The late Hans Penner critiqued the Phenomenology of Religion 25 years ago for confusing the subject and its object. His critique remains relevant to contemporary methods that accept participant statements uncritically. Beginning with a detailed analysis of one lived religion article and expanding to a broader critique, this essay illustrates the contradictions that remain in lived religion methodologies and similar approaches to the study of religion. While reflecting respect for practitioners and expanding the concept of religion, these methods ignore the agency of participants to represent themselves strategically and reinforce common discourse on religion, only expanding the category at its safe margins. The agendas that drive various studies work at cross purposes because of the inherent contradictions, and the dichotomy between scholars (and people like scholars) and practitioners that often results contradicts the rhetoric of respect and treating everyone equally.

Affiliations: 1: University of Alabama, Department of Religious StudiesBox 870264, 212 Manly Hall, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487sramey@as.ua.edu

10.1163/15700682-12341324
/content/journals/10.1163/15700682-12341324
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2015-02-09
2017-09-19

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