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Looking at Change. Perspectives on Mapping and Measuring Religion in Local, Regional and National Settings (2/2)

Panel Chair: Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

The session will include papers from members of the international CARD-network (Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity) and representatives of the Danish Pluralism Study-research group. The panel will in two sessions examine the issue of how we study change and continuity in contemporary religion through projects that map religion through quantitative and/or qualitative approaches in relation to a specific city, region or nation. What is the role of understanding religion and/or religions, when we examine change? How does Hinduism change in a Northern European context? How does Christianity transform in response to modern, western consumer society? And what are the challenges to our concepts of religion, when boundaries between religion and wellness-cultures become blurred? How can we examine the question of religious diversity from a scholarly perspective? We are interested in perspectives on both theoretical and methodological dimensions of mapping projects.

Lene Kühle

CARD: A Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity

The use of the concept of religious diversity is booming. Yet, the potential and consequences of this new interest in religious diversity remain under-considered and under- developed. In 2012, the Danish Council for Independent Research provided funding for the Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Network (CARD network). The goal of the network was to bring together scholars with expertise within specific areas to develop new approaches studying the emerging field of religious diversity. The aim of this paper is to present the work which has taking place within this network with particular emphasis on how to map, critically analyse, and constructively improve the current disparate scholarly field.

Kimmo Ketola

Mapping Religious Communities: What Can Local Studies of Organizational Change Tell Us about Contemporary Religiosity?

The religious field has diversified considerably in recent decades in most Western countries due to immigration and also due to new forms of spirituality. The nature and impact of this change is nevertheless not so easy to characterize in clear and unambiguous terms, as different forms of measurement often yield quite different results. The measures that can be used include (1) formal adherence to religious organisations, (2) participation rates in religious activities, (3) quantity and nature of religious organizations, (4) quantity and nature of religious places of worship/gathering, and (5) survey measures of religious self-identification and beliefs. This paper will focus especially on the picture that emerges from mapping religious organizations and places of gathering in a particular locality and it examines how such studies can complement other indicators concerning the contemporary religious change.

Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger

What are we actually mapping and measuring when looking at religion in a contemporary context?

In our quest for mapping and measuring religion in contemporary time, we are - once again -confronted with the basic problem within religious studies: What are we actually looking for? Are we using the right point of departure when categorizing and measuring? Are we using the right etymology? Do we ask the right questions both to ourselves and to the ones we are categorising? How much religion and according to whom is needed before taken into account? This paper will with examples from our experiences with mapping religion and spirituality in the municipality of Aarhus, Denmark - in 2003 and again in 2013 – and also with a critical analysis of the questions asked in the on-going European value survey, invite to a discussion on how to measure religion in contemporary time

Lars Ahlin

Religion or "feel good"?

A precondition for studying religious change/continuity in any religious mapping project is the validity of the investigations. The essential question is therefore if we actually study what we are supposed to be studying? Do we study religions and adherents to religions? Today it is possible to find techniques on offer almost everywhere with its origin either in Buddhism or in Hinduism, e.g. meditation, yoga and mindfulness. Are all the suppliers of these techniques to be considered to be religious groups and all attending the offered courses considered to be members of a religious group, either Buddhist of Hindu? Or are other needs than religious at stake when attending such a course? This issue will primarily be discussed on the basis of experiences from investigations made in Aarhus, Denmark.


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