For this essay, you can either conduct an observation of a religious ceremony/ritual (3.1) or analyse a hyperreal religion of your choice on the Internet (3.2). This report should be based on the proposal you put forward in part A and include the changes and feedback recommended by your tutor. 3.1 Observation of a religious ceremony/ritual You will be asked to attend by yourself, or in a small group, a religious setting (e.g. a church mass, or another religious ceremony that you will have discussed with your tutor/lecturer).
The field visit is an opportunity to apply the theory encountered in the unit. While undertaking observation, students are reminded to take care not to interfere with the religious practice of the congregation. Do NOT film and/or take pictures during the religious ceremony and be discreet when taking notes. In week 3 we will commence organising our approach to this field work session. More information for these field notes will be provided at the following lecturers and tutorials, which will be structured as follows.
Choose one of these subanalysis for your observation, or plan one yourself. These will help you as a guide, but you do not have to follow them.
What are the different ethnic associations present in the ceremony? If in a church, is there any evidence of these ethnic associations in commemorative plaques in the congregation, in the sermon, in the background of the clergy? Note: Do not forget to explain how you measure ‘ethnicity’.
Can our observation of the Liturgy, the theodicy, and/or the hierarchy tell us about the group’s relation to the maintenance or alteration of gender relations in our society?
- Art and Aesthetics (The Venue):
What is the architectural form of the venue? What devices of light and colour have been used to create an atmosphere in the venue? What is the atmosphere; is it a continuation of the world outside or a radical contrast? What forms of art surround you in the church; how do they support the liturgy? …
- Religious Leaders:
Apply Weber’s typology of Religious Actors to describe the ceremonies (See lecture) and observe them.
- Ceremony Attendance
(Congregation and Interaction) Are there any patterns in the way people look like and the way they distribute themselves in the venue. Who and how many of them are praying and following the different stages of the ceremony? … Analyse the interaction and the congregation.
- Interaction Between Priest(s) and Congregation (Ritual)
Public display of Priest ? Integration of people and the level of involvement?
- g) One subanalysis of your choice (e.g. emotion, body, …)
3.1.2. Writing up:
Here are two ways to write the report: the storytelling and the analytical approaches:
The first one follows a storytelling approach and provides a detailed descriptive account of what was observed. There is a danger that the storytelling can become the sole purpose, and thus becomes atheoretical, nonanalytic and noncritical You have to make sure that if you follow this approach, you address the literature, your research and the theories. Your style of writing is more free but make sure that your essay is structured, and that there is a bibliography.
- b) Analytical approach: (please choose and follow this Analytical approach)
Please follow the different subheadings for writing your essay if you do not follow the storytelling approach:
- The title A short, descriptive summary of the report preferably including a mention of the setting and, perhaps, something about the pattern you explain or the explanation you develop. Do NOT use vague titles, like ‘Sociology of Religion Field Notes’
- Statement of the Problem
This is the introduction to your project (and your paper). It is the most important paragraph in your paper. Briefly state what you were trying to understand (e.g. the setting, questions, or patterns).
Describe how you went about doing your research, e.g. what setting did you pick, how many hours did you spend observing, did you have a special role to play or were you just an observer, did your observing affect the interaction, how many people were involved, how much previous contact had you had with this setting, did you read any books or articles in helping you develop explanations etc. Were there any ethical issues associated with the research? In other words, try to mention anything about your methodology that may have affected your results.
- The Patterns
Address the major patterns you noticed at the ceremony, supplementing your description with diagrams, tables and quotations. For example, you might note that the people were (or were not) geographically distributed according to sex and supplement your description with a diagram of the setting, showing the distribution of men and women. Be sure to label your diagram e.g., ‘Figure 1’ so that you can refer to it in the text e.g. (see Figure 1).
Similarly, you may be able to describe how interaction patterns varied by social factors such as age or gender, then show in a table the relevant data. sure to explain how you got the figures for your table in the preceding methodology section or in a footnote to the particular table. Likewise, you can describe a pattern and then give a quotation from your field notes to illustrate what you describe. When quoting from your field notes, indent and single space.When quoting from your field notes, indent and single space. Be sure that you describe each pattern in the text, as well as illustrating (when appropriate) with evidence.
- The Explanation
Refer to the pattern(s) (that you will have described in the preceding section) that you intend to explain and develop your explanation. Document your explanations whenever possible (e.g. with diagrams, tables, or quotes from your field notes). Then briefly discuss how other (alternative or additional) explanations might also be possible.
Point out the strengths and weaknesses in your research and in your explanations. Suggest what kinds of research are needed to test or further develop your explanations.
In a brief paragraph, summarise the main points of your report.
Submitting the assignment
Attach your field notes (which need not be rewritten or typed) to the original copy. ASSIGNMENTS CANNOT BE MARKED UNLESS THE ORIGINAL FIELD NOTES ARE ATTACHED.
Useful references: You must address the literature for your essay (from the readings or from other sources). Experience has shown, that, a minimum of 68 additional sources are needed to cover the topics adequately. For inspiration on observational research of religious groups, you can check for example:
Capper, D. (2003) Scientific Empathy, American Buddhism, and the Ethnography of Religion. Culture and Religion. 4 (2), 233253.
Giordan, G. and Pace, E. (2012) Religion and the Social Order, Volume 22 : Mapping Religion and Spirituality in a Postsecular World . Leiden, Brill.
Manville, J. (1997) “The gendered organization of an Australian Parish” Sociology of Religion. 58 (1), 2538.
Lowney, K. (1998) “Teenage Satanism as Oppositional Youth Subculture’ in L. Dawson ed. Cults in Context: Readings in the Study of New Religious Movements, New Brunswick, N.J., 313337, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 23, pp. 453484.
Ono, A. (2012) You gotta throw away culture once you become Christian: How ‘culture’ is Redefined among Aboriginal Pentecostal Christians in Rural New South Wales. Oceania. 82 (1): 74–85.
Sutcliffe, S. (2003) Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices, Routledge, London (Chapters 6 and 7)
Sutcliffe S. ed. (2004) Religion: Empirical Studies, Ashgate, Aldershot.
Williams, R. R. (2015) Seeing Religion: Toward a Visual Sociology of Religion . Routledge.
Wood, M. (2010) W(h)ither new age studies? The uses of ethnography in a contested field of scholarship . Religion and Society. 1: 76.
And any references that are explaining the religious group you are studying. And any chapters on observation and/or Field Work from any Research Method Books at the library