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Interviewing Interpreted as a Spiritual Exercise and Social Protest

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In The Weight of the World, sociologist Pierre Bourdieu describes his work as a spiritual exercise. Not known for his religious convictions, his admission is worthy of exploration. In this paper, I build on the conclusion of my book, ‘Fieldwork in Theology’, by drawing on my own interviews with clergy in spaces of social marginality in the USA as a means for evaluating Bourdieu’s claims. I draw upon theologian Kathryn Tanner to claim how God might be present in and through such spiritual exercise. Exactly because of the work entailed to give up oneself for another, and to critically engage in learning about the other, even across multiple divides, this work acts simultaneously as spiritual exercise and social protest against the divisions – racial, economic, religious, and so on – which so often are the source of harm today. Such theological engagement with research method offers a new direction for theological researchers.

Affiliations: 1: Auburn Theological Seminary, New York, USA,


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