Religion-related discourse : a critical approach to non-religion in Edinburgh's Southside

Cotter, Christopher and Knott, Kim (2016) Religion-related discourse : a critical approach to non-religion in Edinburgh's Southside. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis has been undertaken to critically engage with, reframe and rehabilitate a burgeoning body of contemporary research on ‘non-religion’ within the critical academic study of ‘religion’, and to explore the benefits of such a reframing for empirical research. I begin by critically introducing research on ‘non-religion’ and identifying a number of key problems which directly relate to ever-raging debates surrounding the definition of ‘religion’. I then justify my chosen approach—discourse analysis—and provide a discursive re-reading of studies of ‘non-religion’, arguing that it should be approached as part of a ‘religion-related field’, before outlining the theoretical questions addressed in the thesis. I argue for locality as a productive means through which to examine religion-related discourse, justify the selection of Edinburgh’s Southside as my field site, and introduce my data sources and the specifics of my analytical approach. Chapter 4 presents my analysis of the Peoples of Edinburgh Project (PEP), conducted in the mid-1990s, while Chapters 5–7 present the analysis of my own empirical work in the contemporary Southside, and place this into conversation with the PEP. In these chapters I demonstrate that the religion-related field is entangled with a variety of powerful discourses that are inflected by the Southside’s local and national particularity. I also demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the supposed ‘religious’ or ‘non-religious’ character of discourses, in order to assess the underlying structures and entanglements, and to avoid unjustifiably reifying the religion-related field. In some cases the ‘non-religious’ is implicit in the subject position of actors utilizing religion-related discourse. It also appears that being positioned as ‘religious’ or ‘non-religious’ means more in certain circumstances than in others. Furthermore, I reflect on the notion of religious ‘indifference’, arguing that, in some instances, the performance of indifference is a tactic for coping with contextually meaningful difference.

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Thesis (PhD)
?? religious studiesdiscourse analysisnon-religionreligious indifferenceatheismedinburghlocality ??
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15 Mar 2017 11:30
Last Modified:
13 Mar 2024 00:02