The Teacher of Religion as Ethnographer

Eleanor Nesbitt

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

The Teacher of Religion as Ethnographer

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Increasing religious pluralism clearly impacts directly on the teaching of the sociology of religion. This article looks at the contexts in which religion is taught, including Sunday school, state school, university, and so on. It identifies the variety of types of teacher of religion – for example, the insider and the outsider to the faith community in question, the salaried school teacher, and the volunteer Sunday-school teacher. To be ethnographically aware is to make explicit to oneself what one's view of religion is, and this will involve as a consequence, the discussion contends, challenging the taken-for-granted equation of religion with belief and practice. The teacher of religion's task extends not only to acquiring ethnographic skills for the better performance of their own role but also to training students in ethnography, seeing in them potential co-ethnographers.

Keywords: religious pluralism; Sunday school; religion teacher; faith community; ethnography

Article.  8784 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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