USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Archive

Archive

What’s So Wrong with Mindfulness?

This article originally appeared in Tricycle. “I was stressed out, burned out, and divorced. And then I started doing yoga.” This is how many people I have spoken to in the course …

Studying Faith: Qualitative Methodologies for Studying Religious Communities

Introduction Religion is a fundamental part of human experience and is deeply concerned with questions of “making sense” and “meaning” of our world and our existence. It constitutes the symbols, historical narratives …

Mapping the New Landscape of Religion in Los Feliz

This article originally appeared in BOOM: A Journal of California. Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church was in trouble. Its congregation had become too small to sustain the decaying Los Feliz building that had …

Traditional and Innovative – How Korean Buddhism Stays Relevant

South Korea has become most widely known for its rapidly growing Christian population in the recent past, but nearly a quarter of the country’s population identify as Buddhist. (A majority of the …

Religious, Spiritual and “None of the Above”: How Did Mindfulness Get So Big?

This post originally appeared on Religion Dispatches. The ever-growing popularity of mindfulness—from corporate boardrooms to inner-city schools—has finally made my academic interest a conversation-starter at dinner parties. “Ah, the Buddha was talking about cognitive …

How might a journalist and a social scientist approach religion differently?

Qualitative sociology and anthropology are similar to journalism, but there are some key differences. The time a social scientist spends collecting data is usually much longer than a journalist. One of the …

Extra Resources

CRCC and the National Disaster Interfaiths Network have developed tip sheets on how to approach minority religious communities. While these are written in the context of disaster relief, they can also be …

How do I apply social science theoretical frameworks to make sense of my data?

Throughout this manual we refer to studying religion from the perspective of a social scientist. What makes the perspective of a social scientist so unique? In fact, why do we make the …

How do I take good photography, video or audio in the field?

Taking photography and recording audio and video can be helpful in many different ways. Looking back at your images can help you recall details that you might not have recorded in your …

What are the ethical considerations of fieldwork?

Before you start any sort of qualitative research, you must first consult your college or university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Each institution will have their own process and own expectations of the …

What data do you collect in participant observation?

Whenever you make an observation, conduct an interview or talk informally with someone about your project, you should consider this as a piece of data. It can both lead you back to …

What is “participant observation”?

In the context of studying religious groups, fieldwork consists of deep immersion and “hanging out” in other people’s social and cultural worlds in order to capture what they experience as meaningful and …

What are some techniques and strategies for interviewing?

First Things First Assure people of confidentiality and anonymity. Ask permission for recording interviews and/or taking down notes. You can discuss with the interviewee the benefits of recording versus taking down notes …

What are typical interview questions?

Biographical questions: Typically, a good way to start an interview is by beginning with a biographical or a life-history question. For example, you can ask them about their own spiritual or religious …

How do I prepare for an interview?

Getting Started At first, there may be some apprehension on the part of both the interviewer and interviewee. On the one hand, as an interviewer, you may be concerned that the person …

Whom should I interview?

Unless you have been assigned to study a particular group, your choices of which groups to study are nearly endless. If the purpose of your research study is to collect qualitative socio-cultural …

Why should I use interviews in my research?

Interviews are excellent tools to understand the meaning and significance of the ways in which individuals participate in various religious communities. Interviews are the face-to-face meetings you will arrange with participants of …

How do you choose and gain access to a field site?

Your instructor may provide you with some guidance concerning the group or groups to be studied, or you may pursue this investigation based on your own research interests. Either way, you can …

Is it possible to study religion objectively?

Objectivity is the idea that unbiased scientific or social scientific knowledge can be reliably obtained through systematic observations of an external reality. Yet, when we study religious life using qualitative methods of …

What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying my own religion?

It is certainly possible to study one’s own congregation, religious community or familiar spiritual practice, but there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when setting about such …