Studying religion and cities

Emergent meanings and methodologies

Authored by: Katie Day

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367367121
eBook ISBN: 9780429351181
Adobe ISBN:


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Although there is a proliferation of literature on cities and on religion, there has been relatively little research on religions in urban contexts and how they interact. Even so, there has been a growing body of research drawing on an expanded ecological approach that examines the reciprocal dynamic of religions and the urban spaces in which they exist. This chapter looks at the “touchstones” in the research genealogy from W.E.B. DuBois to contemporary scholarship as represented in this volume. As the field has evolved, the study of religion in urban ecologies is now marked by four features: research is interdisciplinary, inclusive of the multiple faiths reflecting the religious pluralism of cities today, incorporates a spatial orientation in its analysis, and accounts for the impact of globalization. All of this has influenced methodologies for studying religion in cities. Ethnography is the predominant research method, but it draws on quantitative data, historical study, economics, architecture, among other methodologies. Further new ethnographic methods of capturing the “synapses” between cities and religion are emerging.

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