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No single narrative or theory can describe the varieties of religious experience in North America today. The tidy dichotomies of liberal/ conservative, public/private, local/global, and renewal/secularization make little sense once specific congregations are examined closely. To understand the shifting boundaries of contemporary religious expressions, new tools are needed. Contemporary American Religion collects qualitative, on-the-ground studies of local congregations by up-and-coming religious scholars. Ethnography combined with more traditional sociological methods, help make sense of complex religious communities—from Messianic Jews to evangelical feminists, from Gospel Hour at a gay bar to exurban megachurches. This collection covers a wide span of the religious landscape, always trying to uncover new theoretical insights. Essential reading for classes in sociology of religion, contemporary American religion, and anthropology of religion.

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Editorial Reviews

Nova Religio:Journal Of Alternative And Emergent Religions
These essays...demonstrate the range of approaches—qualitative and quantitative, interview and archival—that characterize ethnographic research. The result is an anthology with all the descriptive richness and multiplicity of postmodern scholarship. But these essays successfully avoid the postmodern pitfall of neglecting theory building. With the help of the editors' useful introduction and Wuthnow's challenging conclusion, they work well together to question existing models of American religious life, suggest new ones and further the restructuring of the field.
— Bret E. Carroll, (California State University, Stanislaus)
Religious Studies Review
Although many readers may finish this collection by agreeing with R. Wuthnow that 'ethnography is itself a highly diverse set of techniques and practices,' all will have been treated to an interesting, indeed fascinating 'read.' This is a book that could well be used as a discussion resource in college-level classes on American religion.
— John T. Ford, (Catholic University of America)
Review Of Religious Research
Contemporary American Religion is an ambitious anthology that, among its other aims, makes a compelling case for the importance of ethnographic research in the study of religious communities....This volume exhibits a keen sensitivity to religious transformation in America complemented by an awareness of changing scholarly conceptions of theory, ethnography, and cultural analysis.
— John P. Bartkowski, University of Texas at San Antonio
Collects qualitative studies of local congregations in order to uncover new theoretical insights into the shifting boundaries of contemporary religious expression. Ten contributions combine cultural and institutional forms of analysis with more traditional sociological methods to help make sense of complex religious communities<-->from Messianic Jews to evangelical feminists, from Gospel Hour at a gay bar to exurban megachurches. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761991960
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Penny Edgell: Cornell University Nancy L. Eiesland: Emory University

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Table of Contents

chapter 1 Penny Edgell Becker and Nancy L. Eiesland, Introduction chapter 2 1. Shoshanah Feher, Managing Strain, Contradictions, and Fluidity: Messianic Judaism and the Negotiation of a Religio-Ethnic Identity chapter 3 2. Matthew Lawson, Struggles for Mutual Reverence: Social Strategies and Religious Stories chapter 4 3. Edward R. Gray and Scott L. Thumma, The Gospel Hour: Liminality, Identity, and Religion in a Gay Bar chapter 5 4. Janet Stocks, To Stay or to Leave?: Organizational Legitimacy in the Struggle for Change Among Evangelical Feminists chapter 6 5. Penny Edgell Becker, What is Right? What is Caring? Moral Logic in Local Religious Life chapter 7 6. Elfriede Wedam, Splitting Interests or Common Causes: Styles of Moral Reasoning in Opposing Abortion chapter 8 7. Tim Nelson, The Church and the Street: Race, Class, and Congregation chapter 9 8. Nancy L. Eiesland, Contending with a Giant: The Impact of a Megachurch on Exurban Religious Institutions chapter 10 9. Mike McMullen, The Religious Construction of a Global Identity: An Ethnographic Look at the Atlanta Bahai Community chapter 11 Robert Wuthnow, Conclusion chapter 12 References chapter 13 Index

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