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Book: Methods for the Study of Religious Change

Chapter: Chapter 5 Fieldwork on Ritual: Understanding through Participation

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24439


In Chapter 5 on ritual the central methodological question is: what happens when a researcher of religion wishes to observe religious practices while participating fully in religious rituals? So, what happens when a researcher “plays” in her fieldwork between the role of a researcher and the role of a practising believer? Is participation in a religious ritual, that is, is experiencing ritual in affective ways, an adequate strategy to reach for a deeper understanding of religion? The researchers in this chapter demonstrate that by reflection on the self’s participation in religious rituals, as well as on the reactions of the others in this participation, one can arrive at a deeper understanding indeed of the ways rituals are significant for the believers’ ways of giving meaning to their world.

Chapter Contributors

  • Kim Knibbe ( - kknibbe) 'Department of the Comparative Study of Religion, Groningen University'
  • Marten van der Meulen ( 'Protestant Theological University, Groningen'
  • Peter Versteeg ( 'Independent'