Blurred encounters? Religious literacy, spiritual capital and language

Christopher Baker

in Faith in the public realm

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420305
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302285 | DOI:
Blurred encounters? Religious literacy, spiritual capital and language

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This chapter focuses on ‘blurred encounters’ specifically on encounters between faith groups, academia, government and other partners in the third sector. These encounters are believed to have recently increased in scope and frequency due to current government policy aimed at increasing the role played by the third sector in key policy areas such as local democracy, social cohesion and public service provision. In the following discussion, the phenomenon of blurred encounters is first defined as this provides a basis to the identification and exploration of different levels of miscommunication that occur in the blurred encounters between faith actors and other partners in the public realm. This miscommunication often stemmed from the attempts to use shared language and concepts. And this miscommunication is due to the different understanding and interpretation of faith and non-faith sectors on the key motifs used in government policy. It also discusses the contribution of faiths and the distinction of ‘religious capital’ from ‘spiritual capital’. The chapter concludes by discussing first the strategy of addressing this miscommunication between language and values through a common discourse based on the varying types of social capital and, second the few comments on what can be defined as ‘religious literacy’ and whether there is a further need for bridging metaphors and concepts apart from ‘capital’ within a public political discourse.

Keywords: blurred encounters; faith groups; government; government policy; religious capital; spiritual capital; social capital; religious literacy

Chapter.  6827 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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