Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Religion-related discourse

Electronic data

  • 2016cotterphd

    Final published version, 2.5 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

View graph of relations

Religion-related discourse: a critical approach to non-religion in Edinburgh's Southside

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2016
Number of pages305
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • AHRC
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis has been undertaken to critically engage with, reframe and rehabilitate a burgeoning body of contemporary research on ‘non-religion’ within the critical academic study of ‘religion’, and to explore the benefits of such a reframing for empirical research. I begin by critically introducing research on ‘non-religion’ and identifying a number of key problems which directly relate to ever-raging debates surrounding the definition of ‘religion’. I then justify my chosen approach—discourse analysis—and provide a discursive re-reading of studies of ‘non-religion’, arguing that it should be approached as part of a ‘religion-related field’, before outlining the theoretical questions addressed in the thesis.
I argue for locality as a productive means through which to examine religion-related discourse, justify the selection of Edinburgh’s Southside as my field site, and introduce my data sources and the specifics of my analytical approach. Chapter 4 presents my analysis of the Peoples of Edinburgh Project (PEP), conducted in the mid-1990s, while Chapters 5–7 present the analysis of my own empirical work in the contemporary Southside, and place this into conversation with the PEP. In these chapters I demonstrate that the religion-related field is entangled with a variety of powerful discourses that are inflected by the Southside’s local and national particularity. I also demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the supposed ‘religious’ or ‘non-religious’ character of discourses, in order to assess the underlying structures and entanglements, and to avoid unjustifiably reifying the religion-related field. In some cases the ‘non-religious’ is implicit in the subject position of actors utilizing religion-related discourse. It also appears that being positioned as ‘religious’ or ‘non-religious’ means more in certain circumstances than in others. Furthermore, I reflect on the notion of religious ‘indifference’, arguing that, in some instances, the performance of indifference is a tactic for coping with contextually meaningful difference.