Chapter

Believing in Belonging: The Cultural Act of Claiming Identity

Abby Day

in Believing in Belonging

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577873
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731143 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577873.003.0003
Believing in Belonging: The Cultural Act of Claiming Identity

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Empirical data presented here explore how people describe themselves as being ‘in relation to’ something or somebody, often expressing their identity as an expression of belonging. Narrative, indigenous discourses and ‘glancing tropes’ were used to convey connections or disconnections amongst people. This finding problematises dominant theories in the social sciences relating to individualism and fragmentation. The nature of belief narratives is indeterminate, open-ended and often expressed from multiple viewpoints, reflecting a nature of identity as fluid, malleable, interdependent, multiple and continuously forming. Cross-cultural examples reveal related discourses of culture and identity and raise questions about how researchers represent people’s identities. Asking them to claim an identity in, for example, a questionnaire or a census, presumes a unity of self and non-relatedness. The history and impact of the UK census ‘religious question’ is explored in depth to reveal its political and performative nature and its frequently ignored evidence of Christianity’s decline.

Keywords: belief; belonging; culture; identity; census

Chapter.  11286 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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