How do you study religion and society? In this fascinating book, some of the most famous names in the field explain how they go about their everyday work of studying religions in the field. They explain how the ideas for their projects and books have come together, how their understanding of religion has changed over the years, and how their own beliefs have affected their work. They also comment on the changing nature of the field, the ideas which they regard as most important, and those which have not stood the test of time. Lastly they offer advice to young scholars, and suggest what needs to be done to enable the field to grow and develop further.
"These eloquent essays remind us of the consequential twists and turns in individual lives, the riches to be discovered in the sociological imagination and in academic community, and not least, how and why we study religion. A joy to read." - Michele Dillon, University of New Hampshire, USA
"A genuinely unusual and fascinating book. It gives not only the personal background to many of the most important contributions to the sociology of religion of the past generation, but a unique perspective on what influences people’s work in this field as well as its particular modes of professional self-representation. A wonderful contribution to the literature in this field." - Gordon Lynch, University of Kent, UK
1. Introduction: On Sociological Self-Reflection Titus Hjelm and Phil Zuckerman 2. A Life in Religious Communities Nancy Ammerman 3. Stranger in a Strange Land William Sims Bainbridge 4. Doing Sociology: Confessions of a Professional Stranger Eileen Barker 5. Constructing Religion: Serendipity and Skepticism James A. Beckford 6. Straddling Boundaries: Disciplines, Theories, Methods, and Continents Peter Beyer 7. Work and Adventure: From Poetry to Sociology of Religion Irena Borowik 8. Unintended Consequences Biographical and Sociological Steve Bruce 9. Serendipity in the Study of Religion and Society Mark Chaves 10. Thinking Sociologically about Religion: Discerning and Explaining Pattern Grace Davie 11. Hurdling Over Borders: Reflections On My Intellectual Trajectory Karel Dobbelaere 12. Counting and Accounting for Worldviews: Doing Surveys and Social Research on Four Continents Barry Kosmin 13. My Specific Form of Disorientation Robert Orsi 14. Engaged Faith—My Own and of Those I Study Wade Clark Roof 15. Studying Protestantism in a Catholic and Secular Context: Lessons for a Comparative Sociology of Religion Jean-Paul Willaime 16. Side Roads and Detours: A Narrative Reconstruction about Studying Religion Robert Wuthnow