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Here’s my review of Abby Day’s Believing in Belonging which appeared in last year’s edition of the Journal of Religion and Society. Though I didn’t quite buy the theoretical argument of the book, I thought the substantive work on people’s attitudes towards institutionalised religion, gods, ghosts and fate was fascinating.
The commentary on the census is also very useful. I referred to that aspect of the work in a previous post, where I questioned an evolutionary explanation of religion that relied on data from historical censuses.
The full text of the review follows, and a pdf version (post-print) is available here.
Review of Believing in Belonging by Abby Day
Religion and Society: Advances in Research, Volume 3, Number 1, 2012 , pp. 211-241(31)
Believing in Belonging is a study based mainly on a series of interviews conducted in the early 2000s in the north of England. Suspecting that sociological studies of religious affiliation were failing to capture something important, Day asked her interviewees instead about ‘belief’. In the substantive chapters she outlines the main issues that emerged from these conversations: community and identity, relations with kin, enduring relations with the dead, the operation of fate or providence, and the importance of morality.