#5 Nancy Ammerman

This is the fifth episode of the Conversation Series, with the rubric “Studying Lived Religion: Contexts and Practices” and with the guest Nancy T. Ammermann. Although the study of lived religion has been around for over two decades, there has not been an agreed-upon definition of what it encompasses, and we have lacked a sociological theory to frame the way it is studied. Ammerman offers a definition that expands lived religion’s geographic scope and a framework of seven dimensions around which we can analyze lived religious practice. Examples from multiple traditions and disciplines show the range of methods available for such studies, offering practical tips for how to begin. Her work opens up how we understand the category of lived religion, erasing the artificial divide between what happens in congregations and other religious institutions and what happens in other settings. Professor Ammerman shows how deeply religion permeates everyday lives. In revealing the often overlooked ways that religion shapes human experience, she invites us all into new ways of seeing the world around us. 

Nancy T. Ammerman is one of the most influential sociologists in the study of lived religion. Her most recent research published in her edited 2006 book Everyday Religion Observing Modern Religious Lives (Oxford University Press) and her 2013 book, Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes Finding Religion in Everyday Life, (Oxford University Press) explored the ways religion and spirituality are part of the everyday world of work, home, health, and public life Following on that research, she has articulated an invitation to “re think religion” based on sociological theories of practice and a body of research on “lived religion”. Pulling all of this together is her book Studying Lived Religion Contexts and Practices, which will be out from NYU Press in October 2021. Along with Grace Davie, she was Coordinating Lead Author for “Religions and Social Progress Critical Assessments and Creative Partnerships” in the Report of the International Panel for Social Progress (Cambridge University Press 2018).

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