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Department/School

Sociology and Anthropology

Abstract/Excerpt

Phenomenology is a powerful, yet underused method in the study of religion—in part because too many scholars misunderstand what it en-tails. In its pure form, phenomenology seeks to describe experience as it presents itself to subjective consciousness. It is thus distinct from—and conceptually prior to—a subject’s interpretations of that experience, though experiences and interpretations inevitably collide. Conscious bracketing allows at least a partial separation, which lets experience-near descriptions of religious phenomena emerge. This chapter outlines an empirical phenomenological method for exploring subjective experiences in religious settings. This method does not allow one to weigh the ‘truth’ of such experiences, much less gauge their ‘real’ referent. Instead, it allows one to enter into an aspect of the informants’ religious world as it presents itself to their consciousness. From this, one may draw conclusions about their religion as it is actually lived.

Document Type

Chapter

Book Title

The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion

Editors

Michael Stausberg and Steven Engler

Publisher

Routledge

Place of Publication

London and New York

Publication Date

2012

Pages

333-345

ISBN

9780415559201

Keywords

phenomenology, experience, study of religion

Disciplines

Psychology | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Religion | Sociology | Theory, Knowledge and Science

Comments

Text is final pre-acceptance draft.