study of religion, methodology The Insider-Outsider Debate
© George Chryssides 2015
Page created 22 March 2015
Last updated 16 March 2024
The Insider/Outsider Debate:
New Perspectives
in the Study of Religion

edited by George D. Chryssides
         and Stephen E. Gregg

The distinction between “insiders” and “outsiders” is often taken for granted by students and scholars of religion. However, there exists a range of stakeholders in religious and spiritual movements - seekers, acolytes, nominal members, waverers, non-believers and ex-members.

This collection of essays explores these - and other - different positionings and testimonies, exploring they might be regarded in scholarly research, and how their testimony should be evaluated.

The essays in this volume - all specially commissioned from an international team of scholars - seek to challenge the stark insider-outsider binary, challenging existing assumptions, and in doing so suggesting new approaches to methodological issues in the study of religion.

Without compromising on scholarly rigour, the chapters are written in an accessible style, and will be of interest to undergraduates as well as post-graduate researchers and academic colleagues.
List of chapters and contributors:

George D. Chryssides (York St John University)
Stephen E. Gregg (University of Wolverhampton)

Part One: New Methodological Approaches in the Study of Religion

Chapter 1
Relational Religious Lives: Beyond Insider / Outsider Binaries in the Study of Religion
George D. Chryssides (York St John University)
Stephen E. Gregg (University of Wolverhampton)

Chapter 2
The Emics and Etics of Religion: what we know, how we know it, and why this matters
Steven J. Sutcliffe (University of Edinburgh)

Chapter 3
The Death Pangs of the Insider/Outsider dichotomy in the Study of Religion
Ron Geaves (Cardiff University)

Chapter 4
Research Ethics Beyond the Binaries of Right and Wrong
Marie Dallam (University of Oklahoma)

Chapter 5
Taking the Body Seriously, Taking Relationalities Seriously: An Embodied and Relational Approach to Ethnographic Research in the Study of (Lived) Religion
Nina Hoel (University of Oslo, Norway)

Chapter 6
On the edge of the inside - contemplative approaches to the study of religion
Lynne Scholefield
(St Mary’s University, Twickenham)

Chapter 7
When it gets crowded under the umbrella: An examination of scholarly categorisation
of Buddhist Communities in the United States
Claire Miller Skriletz (Independent Scholar)

Chapter 8
On the (Im)possibility of Participant-Observation
Rebecca Moore (San Diego State University)

Chapter 9
‘Negotiating blurred boundaries: An ethnographic and methodological consideration’
Fiona Bowie (King’s College London)

Part Two: Contesting Religious Belonging in the Study of Religion -- Case Studies

Chapter 10
Imported Insider / Outsider Boundaries: The Case of Contemporary Chinese
Christianity Researchers
Naomi E. Thurston (Renmin University / University of Wales)

Chapter 11
Who Researches? Who Changes? Christian Autoethnography and Muslim Pupil
Identity in a Church of England Primary School
Tom Wilson (Church of England)

Chapter 12
Scientology Inside Out: Religious Belonging in the ‘Freezone’
Stephen E. Gregg (University of Wolverhampton)
Aled J. L. Thomas (The Open University)

Chapter 13
Close Encounters of a Guru Kind: Ethnographic Research as Encounters with the Cognitive Worlds of Others.
Stephen Jacobs (University of Wolverhampton)

Religion in the 21st Century
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The Insider/Outsider Debate
Chapter 14
Navigating Multiplicity in a Binary World: Complex Religious Identity in Java, Indonesia
Katherine Rand (Claremont School of Theology)

Chapter 15
Between Institutional Oppression and Spiritual Liberation: The Female Ordination Movement in the Catholic Church and its Utilisation of Social Media
Lyndel Spence (University of Sydney)

Chapter 16
Who is a Jew? New approaches to an old question
Dan Cohn-Sherbok (various institutions)

Chapter 17
Moving Out: Disengagement and ex-membership in new religious movements
George D. Chryssides (York St John University)

Chapter 18
Being Catholic since Vatican II: Challenges and opportunities in post-secular times
Andrew P. Lynch (University of Sydney / University of Western Sydney)

Chapter 19
Reflexive and Holistic Switchers: Older Women / Newer Commitments
Janet B. Eccles (Independent Scholar)

Chapter 20
Both Outside and Inside: ‘Ex-Members’ of New Religions and Spiritualities and the
Maintenance of Community and Identity on the Internet
Carole M. Cusack (University of Sydney)