Religious Identity and Social Change : Explaining Christian conversion in a Muslim world book cover
1st Edition

Religious Identity and Social Change
Explaining Christian conversion in a Muslim world

ISBN 9781138022829
Published June 23, 2015 by Routledge
228 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Religious Identity and Social Change offers a macro and micro analysis of the dynamics of rapid social and religious change occurring within the Muslim world. Drawing on rich ethnographic and quantitative research in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, David Radford provides theoretical insight into the nature of religious and social change and ethnic identity transformation exploring significant questions concerning why people convert and what happens when they do so. A crisis of identity occurs when religious conversion takes place, especially from one major religious tradition (Islam) to another (Christianity); and where religious identity is intimately connected to ethnic and national identity. Radford argues for the importance of recognising the socially constructed nature of identity involving the dynamic interplay between human agency, culture and social networks. Kyrgyz Christians have been active agents in bringing religious and identity transformation building upon the contextual parameters in which they are situated.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Making Sense of the Context  3. Methodology and Description of Kyrgyz Christians  4. Approaches to the Study of Religious Conversion  5. Religious Capital and Kyrgyz Conversion  6. The Social and Cultural Capital and Kyrgyz Conversion  7. Life Situations, Solutions and Explanations  8. Living out a Minority Kyrgyz Christian Identity in a Majority Muslim Kyrgyz World  9. Religious Conversion and the Re-construction of Ethnic Identity  Epilogue  Appendices

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David Radford is Senior Research Fellow at the Hawke Research Institute, where he is Lecturer in the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of South Australia.


Radford’s volume, solidly grounded in sociological theory of religious conversion and identity formation, reads with the life and color of a good ethnography. While noting the normally value-neutral stance of sociology, he recognizes that Kyrgyz Christians face religious and theological questions of right and wrong; such views are expressed in their interview and survey responses [...]  Written as a sociological study it is an excellent model for missiological research on conversion and identity issues. For those interested in identity formation, and in particular how we negotiate and live out an “in Christ” identity, this study provides many rich insights from the Kyrgyz experience. And for those with a general interest in ministry among Muslims, Radford’s insights from (as the title terms it, emphasis added) “a Muslim world” bear consideration in other settings in “the” Muslim world. - Reviewed in Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2017 by David H. Greenlee, OM International, Atlanta, USA

"Radford utilizes a very thorough and well-thought-out survey methodology. The many tables of results throughout the book are invaluable. At the same time, extensive citations from the in-depth interviews keep the text engaging and lively." - Todd M. Johnson, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA, USA