Item Details

Facing the Other: Religious and Community Leaders’ Negotiations of Religious Difference in Hobart, Tasmania

Issue: Vol 14 No. 1 (2019)

Journal: Fieldwork in Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/firn.39234


This article examines religious and community leaders’ perceptions of diversity and the ways in which they, and their communities, negotiate difference. Hobart, in Tasmania, Australia, is experiencing growing religious and ethnic diversity that is posing challenges for existing faith communities. The data consists of twelve in-depth interviews with Hobart’s religious leaders in which participants described two modes of negotiating difference: seeking sameness and agreeing to disagree. These modes of negotiation are positive examples of Lori Beaman’s (2014) understanding of agonistic respect in processes of “deep equality”. Growing diversity is, however, causing tensions for some communities, most notably conservative Christians in this study, who perceived growing hostility towards Christianity from secular society. Social issues, including marriage equality, have heightened tensions between conservative Christians and anti-religious Nones (Not Religious). I argue that social cohesion is reliant upon a commitment to liberal democratic values. This commitment provides the capacity for individuals to live with sometimes confronting difference that in turn underlies the celebration of diversity and difference in multiculturalism and pluralism.

Author: Ariel Remund

View Original Web Page

References :

 Journal Articles

 Ade Kearns and Ray Forrest

            2000 'Social Cohesion and Multilevel Governance', Urban Studies 37(5): 995-1017.

 Beaman, Lori G

2014 'Deep Equality as an Alternative to Accommodation and Tolerance', Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 27(2): 89-111.

Bouma, G.D. and Anna Halafoff

2017 Australia's Changing Religious Profile: Views from the 2016 Census. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 30(2): 129-143.

Butler, Judith

2012 'Precarious Life, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Cohabitation', The Journal of  Speculative Philosophy 26(2): 134-51.

Ezzy, Douglas

2013 'Minimising Religious Conflict and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act in Victoria, Australia', Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 26(2): 198-215.

Halafoff, Anna

2015 'Education about Religions and Worldviews: Promoting Intercultural and Interreligious Understanding in Secular Societies', Journal of Intercultural Studies 36(3): 362-79.

Jacob, Herbert

1992 'The Elusive Shadow of the Law', Law and Society Review 26(3): 565-90.

Jenson, Jane

1998 Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research. Ottawa: Family Network.


Online Material

Malik, Kenin

            2002 Against Multiculturalism. (accessed 3rd June, 2018).


Statistics, A.B.S.

2017 2016 Census data reveals “no religion” is rising fast. ABS Website: Australian Bureau of Statistics. te/7E65A144540551D7CA258148000E2B85. (Accessed 28th May, 2018


Michael Mason, A.S., and Ruth Webber

2007 The Spirit of Generation Y: Young People’s Spirituality in a Changing Australia. Melbourne: John Garrat.


Anderson, Benedict

1991 Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. 6th edn. London: Verso.

Bouma, Gary

2006 Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Butler, Judith

2004 Precarious Life. London: Verso.

Connolly, William

2005 Pluralism. United States: Duke University Press.

Dempsey, Kenneth

1990 Smalltown: a study of social inequality, cohesion and belonging. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Etzioni, Amitai

            1988 The Moral Dimension. New York: Free Press.

Inglehart, Ronald and Pippa Norris

2004 'Sacred and Secular', in Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

James Jupp, J.N., Emma Dawson

2007 Social Cohesion in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Modood, Tariq

2007 Multiculturalism. Cambridge: Polity.

Parsons, Talcott

            1968 The Structure of Social Action. New York: Free Press.

Slattery, Martin

2003 Key Ideas in Sociology. Delta Place: Nelson Thornes Ltd.

Edited Book

James Jupp and Michael Cline (Eds)

2011 Multiculturalism and integration: a harmonious relationship, for the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Canberra, A.C.T: ANU E Press.

Velayutham, Selvaraj and Amanda Wise (Eds.)

2009 Everyday Multiculturalism. Great Britain: Palgrave MacMillan.