Faith communities

Authored by: Vally Lytra

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides an account of ethnographic work which focusses on faith communities, and argues for the importance and value of developing research on faith as a social and cultural practice in linguistic ethnography. It provides an account of the history of research in this area, summarising work in social psychology, anthropology and literacy studies which has explored processes of language and literacy learning and socialisation in faith communities. It then reviews a range of ethnographic studies of language and meaning-making practices in faith communities. Many of these have focussed on faith communities as sites of learning. Others have explored the relationships between liturgical, dominant and vernacular languages, or between language and other meaning-making modes. The main research methods in this area are outlined, highlighting the importance of considering the researcher’s own identity and relationships in the field. Finally, the chapter draws out the implications of this work, particularly in relation to teaching and learning in school settings, where faith practices are often overlooked or made invisible when they could be drawn on productively. Areas identified for future research include the increasingly multilingual, multi-ethnic nature of faith communities, and the role of new technologies in these settings.

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