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Religion, Goffman, Face-Saving, Social Psychology, Ritual

The Ambiguities of Football, Politics, Culture, and Social Transformation in Latin America

Sociological Research Online 2 (4) 2

Keywords: Class Warfare; Culture; Europe; Football (Soccer); Latin America; 'Ludic'; Nationalism; Pagan Religion; Politics; Social Transformation; Sport and Games
Abstract: In this article, I attempt to highlight the relationships between football (soccer), politics, culture, and social change in Latin American societies. The essential argument of the paper is that football in Latin America has tended to reinforce nationalistic, authoritarian, class-based, and gender-specific notions of identity and culture. The few efforts of Latin American professional football clubs, individual players, and fans to resist these oppressive tendencies and 'positively' influence the wider society with public positions on pressing social and political concerns have been issue-oriented, short-term, and generally unsystematic in their assessment of the larger societal ills. In Europe, however, there has been a stronger politicization of football directed towards social change by both professional football clubs and supporters. This European tendency, like its Latin American counterparts, has also failed to tackle wider systemic and structural issues in capitalist European societies. On both continents, the 'ludic' notion of games has been undermined by the era of football professionalism, its excessive materialism, and a corresponding 'win-at-all-costs' philosophy. In the future, the world's most popular game will continue to be utilized as a political tool of mass manipulation and social control: a kind of mass secular pagan religion. As a footnote not mentioned in the essay, the 1998 World Cup in France, a worldwide event with 32 countries and an estimated 2.5 billion fans watching the matches in the stadiums and on television, will be used by the international French Evangelical Alliance called 'Sport et Foi Mondial 98' ('Sport and Faith World Cup 98') to bring the Gospel to the greatest number of people in the world: Chaplaincy work among the athletes, a Bible-Expo at a strategic location, evangelical street concerts, evangelical messages and banners in the stadiums, etc. In this instance, the new pagan and secular religion of football clashes with the traditional Christian Church - itself crippled by a loss of mass supporters and the rise of alternative secular lords. In both cases, football unwittingly acts as an agent of mass indoctrination rather than challenging established dogmas, or serving as a vehicle for deeper, systemic social change.

The Revolution and the Virgin Mary: Popular Religion and Social Change in Nicaragua

Stephanie Judith Linkogle
Sociological Research Online 3 (2) 8

Keywords: Gender; La PuríSima; Nicaragua; Nicaraguan Revolution; Popular Religion; Sandinistas; Social Change; Social Transformation; Virgin Mary
Abstract: This article is concerned with analysing the role of popular religion in social transformation in Nicaragua from 1979 to the present, focusing in particular on popular religious practices, as spaces in which gender, political and religious identities are shaped and contested. It explores the elements of Nicaraguan popular religion that were constitutive of a religious and often gendered 'common sense' which fostered identification with specific political projects. My aim is two-fold. Firstly, I am concerned to examine some general issues around popular religion in Latin America and its relationship to the practice and pronouncements of the Catholic church. To this end, I begin my analysis of popular religion in Nicaragua with an exploration of some of the general themes which dominate considerations of popular culture and popular religion. I next examine how the issue of popular Catholicism has been taken up both by the 'official' church, particularly in the wake of Vatican II, and by liberation theologians. This discussion leads to a more specific focus on popular religion in Latin America. Secondly, I explore 'Marianism' and the Nicaraguan popular religious festival La Purísima. Here I focus on the competing gender discourses which are worked through different representations of 'the Virgin Mary'. These competing discourses are often also linked to different versions of an 'ideal' society. Finally the article concludes by outlining how an analysis of popular religious practices can inform a sociological understanding of contradictory processes of social change.

Here be Dragons: Researching the Unbelievable, Hearing the Unthinkable. A Feminist Sociologist in Uncharted Territory

Sara Elizabeth Scott
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 1

Keywords: Feminist Research; Moral Panic; Ritual Abuse
Abstract: This paper describes a number of ways in which the dominant societal response to allegations of ritual abuse as untrue - as being produced by a combination of 'moral panic' and 'false memories' - impacted on research conducted with women and men who identified themselves as survivors of such abuse. (In Britain the research conducted by Jean La Fontaine and the press coverage it received is taken to exemplify this response.)The author's research was based on life history interviews conducted with 14 adults aged between 19 and 58 (11 women and 3 men). This is a reflexive, feminist account of knowledge production that endeavours to make visible the specific social and political context that shaped the researcher's engagement with ethical and epistemological issues, the selection of interviewees, structure of interviews, the questions and answers of the research interviews, and the interpretation of 'data'. The collision between the lived experience of the researcher, that of her informants, and the 'discourse of disbelief' surrounding the subject of ritual abuse, is understood as crucially determining of the research knowledge produced. Attention is given to the disembedding process by which research moves from specific, emotional and embodied encounters to academic articles, and the implications for belief/disbelief in this process.

Memory, Trauma and Genocidal Nationalism

Larry Ray
Sociological Research Online 4 (2) ray

Keywords: Ethnic Violence; Kosovo; Memory; Nationalism; Ritual
Abstract: Nationalism poses several analytical problems for sociology, since it stands at the intersection of familiar binary conceptual contrasts. It further has the capacity to appear alternatively democratic and violent. This paper examines the conditions for violent nationalism, with particular reference to the Kosovo conflict. It argues that the conditions for potentially genocidal nationalism lie in the apparently routine rituals through which 'nations' are remembered and constructed. Violent nationalism may appear where the transmission of collective identities is infused with mourning and traumatic memory. However, the presence of such forms of memory is not sufficient in themselves to provoke violent nationalism. These are unleashed in the context of state crisis where former loyalties are replaced with highly affective commitment to rectification of imagined historical wrongs.

Moral Tensions Between Western and Islamic Cultures: The Need for Additional Sociological Studies of Dissonance in the Wake of September 11

Benet Davetian
Sociological Research Online 6 (3) davetian

Keywords: Courtesy; Ethics; Family; Globalization; Iran; Morality; Religion; Sexual Permissiveness; Sexuality; Terrorism
Abstract: This article suggests that, in the wake of the events of September 11th, it would be an error for sociologists and political analysts to concentrate on revisions of economic and political theory while not paying equal attention to the moral tensions between Islamic and Western cultures. It proposes that economic and geopolitical research be expanded to include bilateral studies of Western and Islamic conceptions of morality and standards of right and wrong. The argument is based on the proposition that certain Western liberal attitudes threaten Islamic peoples' commitment to the traditional family, thereby delaying conflict resolution and providing terrorists with additional venues for "justifying" their acts.

Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism in Southern Europe: The Italian Mosque Debate

Anna Triandafyllidou
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) triandafyllidou

Keywords: Culture; Immigration; Italy; Multiculturalism; Political Parties; Press; Religion
Abstract: AbstractIn southern European countries, where immigration is a recent phenomenon, cultural and religious diversity brought into the host societies by non-EU immigrants has become an important public issue. The controversy over the construction of two new mosques in and around Milan, in October 2000, offers a suitable example for the study of attitudes and views on religious diversity in Italy, its recognition, acceptance or rejection. In the first part of the paper, I shall discuss briefly the size and composition of the immigrant community, the socio-economic position of immigrants in the host society and the legal provisions for naturalisation. In the second part of the paper, I shall concentrate on the 'mosque issue' and the dubious emergence of views and practices favouring a multicultural society and citizenship. The analysis is based on material collected from four major newspapers with both a regional and national circulation. The material will be analysed quantitatively with a view of identifying the main 'voices' involved in the debate and the thematic dimensions that organise it. A qualitative methodology of discourse analysis will be used to identify the prevailing discourse(s) and also how the different positions put forward by the dominant social and political actors are linked with specific features of the Italian political and party system. In the concluding section, I will discuss critically the Italian version of multiculturalism emerging in the mosque debate.

Sexuality in the Church: toward a sociology of the Bible

John D. Brewer
Sociological Research Online 8 (4) brewer

Keywords: Religion; Sex; Sexuality; The Bible; The Church
Abstract: Sexuality is an obsession of the Christian Church. It is one of the social behaviours that it has tried most to control amongst its flock and yet the Christian Church has failed to prevent the encroachment of modern attitudes towards sex and sexuality into the Church as an institution. The furore over the proposed appointment of an openly gay bishop in the Church of England is but the latest expression of this tension. However, this paper argues that this debate needs to be placed in a much broader context, namely, the hermeneutical problem of the authority of the Bible, which is itself only one part of a wider sociology of the Bible. The current debate on sexuality in the Church highlights the need for sociology to begin to apply its way of thinking to the Bible.

A Divergence of Views: Attitude change and the religious crisis over homosexuality

Alasdair Crockett and David Voas
Sociological Research Online 8 (4) crockett

Keywords: Attitudes; Christianity; Church Of England; Gender; Generation Generation; Homosexuality; Religion; Secularization
Abstract: British attitudes towards homosexuality have changed with astonishing rapidity over recent decades. Society has managed to assimilate these shifts with relative ease. The Christian churches, however, as repositories of tradition and defenders of inherited values, have been finding it increasingly difficult to adjust to the new environment. The Church of England is internally divided in the face of an external crisis: the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledges that the global Anglican Communion could split over the issue, and the church faces similar pressures domestically. These events raise important questions about how religious institutions come to terms with modernity. The rapidity of social change, the decline in deference to authority, the increase in tolerance of anything that seems a private matter, and the sense that sexuality is fundamental to the free expression of personal identity, all make it difficult for a church to declare that sexual orientation might disqualify one from ministry or even membership.This paper analyses empirical evidence covering two decades from the British Social Attitudes and British Household Panel surveys. It is apparent that no real consensus yet exists on basic issues of sexual morality. Society as a whole is highly polarised over the question of whether same-sex unions are wrong, with significant and increasing divisions between young and old, women and men, and religious and non-religious. Far from being better placed than others to avoid disputes, Christian churches suffer from compounded problems. The attitudes of lay Christians are starkly and increasingly polarised along the dimensions of ideology and religious practice. This gulf presents a particular problem for churches with both liberal and evangelical wings, notably the Church of England.

A UK Sociolinguistic Perspective: Gene, Jeffrey and Evangelical 'Broad Inclusion' Intersubjectivity

Noel Heather
Sociological Research Online 9 (1) noel

Keywords: Critical Discourse Analysis; Critical Postliberalism; Intersubjectivity; Religion; Sexuality; Social Cognition; Sociolinguistics; The Church
Abstract: Critical sociolinguistics (conceived as Critical Discourse Analysis: CDA), which has a focus on inclusive and exclusive language within social practice, can be used to shed light on underlying aspects of recent debates about the appointment of homosexual bishops in the UK and USA. One strand of the CDA approach is to examine the social cognitions implicit in the behaviours of communities. In the case of the religious communities involved here, a basic feature of their differences lies in their use of contrasting socio-theological, mentally-encoded schemata: the Evangelical, group-focused, strong commitment frame (SCF) contrasts sharply with the more liberally-inclined, more 'individual-respecting', social normalcy frame (SNF). One of the consequences of this is that Evangelicals appear to enjoy a particularly strong sense of 'mental bonding of outlook', intersubjectivity, in which a high focus on group objectives and social outlooks is closely allied to their traditional beliefs. And although Evangelical, 'group-thought' intersubjectivity may aid mental resistance to change on some social issues (eg homosexual bishops), it may however also help maintain 'broad inclusion' in terms of social marginalisation of normally more common, but perhaps less 'culturally visible' kinds (eg the single and elderly).

Mixed Communities Require Mixed Theories: Using Mills to Broaden Goffman's Exploration of Identity Within the GBLT Communities

Dann Hoxsey
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 10

Keywords: Mills, Goffman, Gay, Queer, Mixed-Methods, Methodology, Reflexivity, Sociological Imagination, Symbolic Interactionism, Class
Abstract: The central objective of this paper is to attempt to counter an overly-rigid theoretical approach in data analysis. Implicit in the push to identify and follow one proper theoretical stream is the idea that one's particular theoretical approach will always be plausible and contains an inherent 'value' over any other approach. That being said, the purpose of this paper is two-fold. The first is to argue that a rigid theoretical approach to understanding people from non-homogenized communities leaves the analysis wanting. Instead, I refer to a more flexible nature of using a mixed-method approach to analysis, which will generate an appropriately pluralistic representation of someone from a pluralist community. Secondly, this paper suggests that a mixed-method approach should include both a micro and a macro analysis. In this vein, I put forward the benefits of combining the theoretical approaches of both Goffman and Mills. In doing so, I am not suggesting that Goffman and Mills are the only theorists to use. Rather, the combination of these two theories is useful for understanding an intersubjective approach to myself. A flexible epistemological approach would recognize that other situations might call for the use of other theorists.

The Notion of the Gift in the Donation of Body Tissues

Rhonda Shaw
Sociological Research Online 13 (6) 4

Keywords: Tissue Donation, Body Gifting, Gift, Altruism, Feeling Rules, Ritual Offerings
Abstract: Recent social science commentary on the donation of body tissues and organs typically invokes Richard Titmuss's work on altruism and the gift relationship as a way of framing donative processes. Much of this discussion, however, has neglected to consider how altruism and body gifting is structured and promoted by organisations and institutions that make such processes possible. In this article I suggest that the accounts people give of their body gifting practices do not always fit orthodox notions of tissue donation as unconditional. Rather, people's perceptions of body gifting and donation depend very much on the kind of tissue being donated and who the tissue is being donated to. Given these complexities, we need more thoroughgoing discussion of the rituals associated with specific donation practices.

Modes of Individualisation at Cemeteries

Raf Vanderstraeten
Sociological Research Online 14 (4) 10

Keywords: Historical Sociology, Sociology of Religion, Gravestones, Graveyards, Sociology of Culture
Abstract: Permanent individual gravemarkers were established as social norm for large populations in the nineteenth century. These markers typically display a range of matters-of-fact about the dead: name, age or dates of birth and death, family status, social position, profession, religion, etc. They also include symbolic figurations, which communicate in a more implicit way how the survivors remember their dead. Against this background, this paper analyses gravemarkers and graveyards as material witnesses of changing social and cultural sensibilities. It explores the kinds of changes which took place in European regions with a predominantly Catholic population.

Apocalypse in the Long Run: Reflections on Huge Comparisons in the Study of Modernity

John R. Hall
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 10

Keywords: Conflict, Generalization, Historical Sociology, Historicism,, Lifeworld, Methodology, Modernity, Phenomenology, Religion, Temporality, Theory
Abstract: Methodologies of historical sociology face research problems centered on the instability of historical referents, their historical non-independence, and the privileging of objective time of the clock and calendar. The present essay, by reflecting on an analysis of the apocalyptic in the long run (Hall 2009), proposes the potential to solve these problems by way of a phenomenology of history, which analyzes the enactment and interplay of multiple social temporalities. Whereas high-modern theories of modernity tended to portray a secular trend toward the triumph of rationalized social order centered in diachronic time, analysis of the historical emergence of apocalyptic times in relation to other temporalities especially objective (or diachronic) temporalities, the here-and-now, and the collective synchronic reveals that the apocalyptic has survived within modernity through the articulation of rationalized diachronic time with the sacred strategic time of apocalyptically framed 'holy war.' Overall, the 'empire of modernity' is a hybrid formation that bridges diachronic and strategic temporalities. Despite diachronic developments that tend toward what Habermas described as the colonization of the lifeworld, a phenomenological analysis suggests the durability of the here-and-now and collective synchronic times. These analyses unveil a research agenda that deconstructs the high-modern 'past' versus 'present' binary in favor of a model that analyzes the interplay of multiple social forms, and thus encourages a retheorization of modernity as 'recomposition' encompassing multiple temporalities.

Goffman Goes to Church: Face-Saving and the Maintenance of Collective Order in Religious Services

Christopher M. Donnelly and Bradley R.E. Wright
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 18

Keywords: Religion, Goffman, Face-Saving, Social Psychology, Ritual
Abstract: This article explores behavioural norms and consequences of their transgression during Mainline Protestant and Catholic church services in the Northeastern United States. We utilize Erving Goffman's essay "On Face-Work" as our primary theoretical orientation. Based on fieldwork conducted at twelve different churches in two Northeastern states, we found multiple types of social disruptions, sanctions, and attempted repairs occurring in services. Our findings highlight the normative complexity of religious services and have implications for a variety of collective endeavours.

‘The Person God Made Me to Be’: Navigating Working-Class and Christian Identities in English Evangelical Christianity

Joanne McKenzie
Sociological Research Online 22 (1) 11

Keywords: Social Class, Bourdieu, Identity, Evangelical Christianity, Religion, Habitus
Abstract: This article explores the lived experience of class in relation to English evangelical Christianity. It examines how the subjective, affective impacts of class are felt, navigated and negotiated by working-class evangelical church leaders in the context of everyday ministry. Recent class analysis (Abrahams and Ingram 2013; Friedman 2016; Reay 2015) has mobilized and developed the Bourdieusian concept of ‘cleft’ or divided habitus (Bourdieu 2000) in empirical study of the emotional impact of movement across class fields. Examining data produced in interviews with evangelical leaders, this article draws on this work, exploring how working-class evangelical leaders experience cleft habitus as they engage with different class fields in the course of their work in ministry. It is argued that, whilst often overlooked in research on classed subjectivities, religious identity plays a critical role in provoking distinctive responses to the everyday experience of class. The accounts suggest that, in the negotiation of feelings of cleft habitus, interviewees’ Christian subjectivity prompts a proactive seeking of an integrated identity that is both evangelical and working-class.

Mediating ‘Aspirant’ Religious-Sexual Futures: In God’s Hands?

Yvette Taylor
Sociological Research Online 22 (1) 13

Keywords: Sexuality, Religion, Youth, Employment, Family, Transitions
Abstract: This paper explores the construction of vocational and familial futures, in times of ‘aspiring’, ‘post-welfare,’ or ‘crisis’ youth transitions, as mediated by sexual-religious identification. By considering the intersectional relations of both sexuality and religion in constructing young people’s aspirations, the paper highlights pragmatic and caring orientations, including a ‘calling’ to religion as a site of present-future vocational and familial investment. I challenge the separation of religion and sexuality in youth transitions, and in notions of the ‘times we’re in’ as compelling certain kinds of future-orientated aspirant (and secular) selves. Overall, the article hopes to contribute to theorising the intersection sexuality and religion in further understanding the subversive – and conservative – potential of religious-sexual values and futures. Such orientations interface with aspects of ‘getting by’ and ‘getting on’ and at once re-inscribe and stretch normative vocational and familial choices.

Religion and Social Class: Theory and Method After Bourdieu

Andrew McKinnon
Sociological Research Online 22 (1) 15

Keywords: Religion, Class, Bourdieu, Cultural Capital, Field, Habitus, Christianity, Anglican, Church of England, Bishops
Abstract: This article outlines two inter-related but distinct theoretical approaches to the study of Christianity and Social Class developed from the work of Pierre Bourdieu. The first is a model derived from Distinction ([1979] 1984), the second comes from Bourdieu’s work on religious fields with a focus on the conversion of capital between different fields. The former, better known, approach has the potential to provide important insights, including identifying the affinity of different religious groups with different class locations; on the other hand, this would tell us little about the internal workings of religious communities; it is also unfortunately hampered by a lack of suitable data. The conception of fields and their inter-relations will not answer the questions about the affinity of particular class fragments for particular kinds of religiosity, but it does provide much keener insight into the operation of class within religious communities, by examining the conversion of different types of capital into religious capital. This is illustrated with an extended Bourdieusian hypothesis, a schematic outline that could be used as the starting point for empirical research on the operation of different kinds of capital in the Church of England.