Finding religion outside "religions": Making visible the wide and rich social world that exists between "churches" and "individuals"

Alejandro Frigerio About the author

Abstract: This paper is part of a broader effort to reconsider the study of religious diversity, proposing that it has a relevance - and an antiquity - in the religious dynamics of our societies that is greater than that which we usually assign to it. Due to the predominance of excessively Catholic-centric and over-institutionalized perspectives of religious activity, as well as the prevalence of a “modernist” epistemology, we link "religion" almost exclusively to the existence of groups that have a specific level of formal organization, that endure in time and produce religious identifications. In this text I want to draw attention to the many "spaces for religious sociability" and to the large number of possible "religious movement organizations" where religious meanings and practices are produced and transmitted that are very relevant to people's daily lives, but which usually fall below our theoretical radar. I suggest that they are relevant loci for the production of religious beliefs and practices. I want to highlight individual agency but see it as always embedded in situations of social interaction that not because they lack adequate sociological denominations, are non-existent or less relevant than those that we have traditionally categorized and made visible ("churches", "sects", "cults").

Key words:
Religion; spirituality; social theory; individualism; religious movement organizations

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