Eyes upon the street

Visual social scientific approaches to religion and the city

Authored by: Roman R. Williams , Timothy Shortell

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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We live in a visual age, one exemplified by the fact that nearly everyone carries a camera-equipped mobile phone wherever they go. People snap quotidian photographs and share them across myriad social media platforms. They use these images to document experiences and emotions, construct meaning and identities, and curate memories. Just about everyone is an amateur photographer—even social scientists. The conditions are ripe for research that leverages this taken-for-granted feature of everyday life. Yet, among those whose scholarship focuses on religion and spirituality in cities, very few employ visual methods in their work. This comes as a surprise given the rich visual character of the sacred found in its many symbolic, artistic, material, and embodied expressions. Our ambition is to stimulate visual research. Toward this end we offer an overview of visual social scientific approaches to religion and the city.

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