Volume 15 · Number 1 · Pages 28–38
A Proposal for Personalised and Relational Qualitative Religious Studies Methodology

Philip Baron

Log in download the full text in PDF

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment

Abstract

Context: For many people, religion and/or spiritual experiences are an important part of their daily lives - shaping their thinking and actions. Studying these experiences relies on qualitative religious studies (RS) research that engages respondents on a deeply personal level. Problem: Researchers are unable to provide an apolitical, value-free approach to research. There lacks a rigorous methodological approach to qualitative RS research that addresses this epistemological obstacle. This is particularly relevant when studying a cohort with radically different beliefs from the researcher. Method: Researcher coupling is presented as a topic that defines the researcher and her participants as a systemic entity. By demonstrating how the researcher’s worldview is tied to her research, an argument for personalised and relational observer-dependent research is presented. Five reflexive questions are proposed as a starting point for personalised research to demonstrate the relational and intersubjective nature of this activity. Results: By linking the researcher to her research and changing the goal of research from independent and objective research to one that is relational and contextual, the scholar can report on her research in an ethical and socially just manner by linking her worldview to her research. Implications: The traditional research activity is redefined as one that should embrace the scholar’s worldview instead of attempting to hide it. The scientific ideals of independence and objectivity are replaced by interdependence and hence a proposal is made for personalised research that embraces the intersubjective nature of this activity. This proposal is meant to alleviate some of the epistemological weaknesses in RS. This paradigm shift promotes rigour as a qualifier for methodology including changes to how research is categorised. Constructivist content: Margaret Mead’s ideas of observer dependence in anthropological research and how the observer constructs her research findings are discussed. The circularity that exists in this relational context is analysed according to Bradford Keeney’s ideas on recursion and resultant future behavioural correction. Ranulph Glanville’s ideas of intersubjectivity and his concept of “in the between” are used as a foundation for the researcher-participant relationship. Ross Ashby’s notion of experimenter coupling is used as a basis for researcher coupling.

Key words: Epistemology, ethics, personalised and relational research, religious studies, rigour, research methodology, worldview.

Handling Editor: Alexander Riegler

Citation

Baron P. (2019) A proposal for personalised and relational qualitative religious studies methodology. Constructivist Foundations 15(1): 28–38. https://constructivist.info/15/1/028

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)

Similar articles

Gash H. (2011) Maturana’s Theory and Interpersonal Ethics
Baron P. (2016) A Cybernetic Approach to Contextual Teaching and Learning
Baron P. (2018) Heterarchical Reflexive Conversational Teaching and Learning as a Vehicle for Ethical Engineering Curriculum Design
Schmidt S. J. (2007) God Has Created Reality, We Create Worlds of Experience: A Speech in Honour of Ernst von Glasersfeld to Mark the Award of the Gregory Bateson Prize, Heidelberg, May
Umpleby S. A. (2016) Second-Order Cybernetics as a Fundamental Revolution in Science

References

Ally Y. (2010) Somatic and psychological influence of bewitchment and spirit possession: Exploring differing health beliefs with South African Muslim medical practitioners. New Voices in Psychology 6(1): 17–33. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Ashby W. R. (1957) An introduction to cybernetics. Chapman & Hall, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Austin J. L. (1962) How to do things with words: The William James Lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1955. Edited by James O. Urmson. Oxford University Press, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bailey D. S. (1955) Homosexuality and the Western Christian tradition. Archon Books, Hamden. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bailey E. I. (1997) Implicit religion in contemporary society, Kok Pharos, Kampen. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Baron P. R. (2016) Music, sex, and religiosity: A cybernetic study on South African university students’ use and interpretation of music media. Doctoral dissertation, University of South Africa. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Baron P. R. (2018) Ethical inclusive curricula design: Conversational teaching and learning. South African Journal of Higher Education 32(6): 326–350. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Baron P. R. (2018) Heterarchical reflexive conversational teaching and learning as a vehicle for ethical engineering curriculum design. Constructivist Foundations 13(3): 309–319 https://constructivist.info/13/3/309
Bleicher J. (1980) Contemporary hermeneutics: Hermeneutics as method, philosophy and critique. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Blum J. N. (2012) Retrieving phenomenology of religion as a method for religious studies. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80(4): 1025–1048. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Boswell J. (1980) Christianity, social tolerance, and homosexuality. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Brown C. (2011) The people of no religion: The demographics of secularisation in the English-speaking world since c. 1900. Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 51: 37–61. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Cobb J. B. & Ives C. (eds.) (2005) The emptying God: A Buddhist-Jewish-Christian conversation. Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene OR. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Duberman M. B., Vicinus M. & Chauncey G. (1990) Hidden from history: Reclaiming the gay and lesbian past. Volume 1. Plume, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Eliade M. (1959) The sacred and the profane: The nature of religion. Harcourt, Orlando FLA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Fitzgerald T. (2000) The ideology of religious studies. Oxford University Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Foerster H. von (1991) Through the eyes of the other. In: Steier F. (ed.) Research and reflexivity. Sage, London: 63–75 https://cepa.info/1729
Forman R. K. C. (1999) Mysticism, mind, consciousness. State University of New York Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gauthier F. (2004) Rave and religion? A contemporary youth phenomenon as seen through the lens of religious studies. Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 33(3–4): 397–413. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gauthier F. (2005) Orpheus and the underground: Raves and implicit religion – From interpretation to critique. Implicit Religion 8(3): 217–265. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Geertz C. (1974) “From the native’s point of view”: On the nature of anthropological understanding. Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 28(1): 26–45. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Glanville R. (2001) An observing science. Foundations of Science 6(1): 45–75 https://cepa.info/3636
Glanville R. (2004) A (cybernetic) musing: Control, variety and addiction. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 11(4): 85–92 https://cepa.info/3425
Glanville R. (2008) A (cybernetic) musing: Five friends. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 15(3–4): 163–172. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Glanville R. (2012) The black box. Volume 1: Cybernetic Cycles. Echoraum, Vienna. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Greil A. (1993) Explorations along the sacred frontier: Notes on para-religions, quasi-religions, and other boundary phenomenona. In: Bromley D. & Hadden J. (eds.) Handbook of cults and sects in America. JAI Press, Greenwich CT: 153–172. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Higgins P. (1996) Heterosexual dictatorship: Male homosexuality in postwar Britain. Fourth Estate, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Ivey G. & Myers T. (2008) The psychology of bewitchment. Part I: A phenomenological study of the experience of bewitchment. South African Journal of Psychology 38(1): 54–74. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Jackson R. (2013) Rethinking religious education and plurality: Issues in diversity and pedagogy. Routledge, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kahn J. S. (2014) Encountering extraordinary worlds: The rules of ethnographic engagement and the limits of anthropological knowing. Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 61(2/3): 237–254. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kauffman L. H. (1987) Self-reference and recursive forms. Journal of Social and Biological Structures 10: 53–72 https://cepa.info/1816
Keeney B. P. (1983) Aesthetics of change. Guilford Press, New York. NY. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kelly G. A. (1955) The psychology of personal constructs. Volumes 1 and 2. Norton, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Lambek M. (2014) Recognizing religion: Disciplinary traditions, epistemology, and history. Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 61(2/3): 145–165. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Lindgren M. (1973) The people of Pylos: Prosopographical and methodological studies in the Pylos archives. Doctoral dissertation, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Sweden. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Luckmann T. (1967) The invisible religion: The problem of religion in modern society. Macmillan, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Lund C. & Swartz L. (1998) Xhosa-speaking schizophrenic patients’ experience of their condition: Psychosis and amafufunyana. South African Journal of Psychology 28(2): 62–70. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
MacIntyre A. (1987) Relativism, power, and philosophy. In: Baynes K., Bohnman J. & McCarthy T. (eds.) After philosophy: End or transformation. MIT Press. Cambridge MA: 385–409. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Malterud K. (2001) Qualitative research: Standards, challenges, and guidelines. The Lancet 358(9280): 483–488. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. (1988) Reality: The search for objectivity or the quest for a compelling argument. The Irish Journal of Psychology 9(1): 25–82 https://cepa.info/598
McCutcheon R. T. (1997) Manufacturing religion: The discourse on sui generis religion and the politics of nostalgia. Oxford University Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Mead M. (1943) Our educational emphases in primitive perspective. American Journal of Sociology 48(6): 633–639. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Ratele K., Duncan N., Hook D., Mkhize N., Kiguwa P. & Collins A. (2004) Self, community and psychology. Juta and Company, Lansdowne SA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Rogers C. (1995) A way of being. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Schnell T. (2011) Experiential validity: Psychological approaches to the sacred. Implicit Religion 14(4): 388–404. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Schön D. A. (1983) The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Segal L. (2001) The dream of reality: Heinz von Foerster’s constructivism. Springer, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Segal R. A. (1983) In defence of reductionism. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 51(1): 97–124. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Siegler E. (2015) Working through the problems of study abroad using the methodologies of religious studies. Teaching Theology & Religion 18(1): 37–45. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Slife B. & Melling B. (2012) Method decisions: Quantitative and qualitative inquiry in the study of religious phenomena. Pastoral Psychology 61(5/6): 721–734. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Stensland P. & Malterud K. (1997) New gateways to dialogue in general practice Development of an illness diary to expand communication. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care 15(4): 175–179. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Warner C. D. (2014) On the relationship between method and the object of study when studying religion. Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 61(2/3): 131–144. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Whitehead A. N. (1953) Science and the modern world. The Free Press, New York NY. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.