USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

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Archive

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 …

What are the guidelines for objective, reliable and valid research?

Honesty Be forthright about you see. Strive to avoid being swayed by biases, prejudice or personal wishes. Honesty also means recognizing how your own personal history and identity markers such as race, …

What methodologies can I use to study religious groups?

Social scientists answer this question in a number of ways. The two most common methodologies are quantitative and qualitative studies. Neither the qualitative approach nor the quantitative approach is inherently superior, but …

Why Do Buddhists Give Money in Sri Lanka, But Not in the U.S.?

During visit to observe a Los Angeles-based mindfulness group a few months ago, the teacher asked me to explain to her students the significant role that dana, one of the ten pāramitā …

Mindfulness and Science: Who’s Winning the Game of Samsara?

In his podcast lecture, Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey, a young Vipassana teacher, raises concerns about the “Mindfulness Industrial Complex.” “We want to win at this game of samsara”—the cyclic existence of suffering, driven by …

Competitive Religious Philanthropy in the Wake of the Nepali Earthquake

This post originally appeared at Religion Dispatches. The death toll in Nepal has surpassed 8,500, Reuters reported this week, making it the country’s deadliest earthquake on record. In the aftermath of the disaster, …

Mindfulness is as American as Apple Pie

“I want to deal with the chaos in my mind.” “I need to find some stillness and clarity in my mind.” So said two students at the first session of a six-week …

Mindful Togetherness

Mindfulness is everywhere. From die-hard new atheists like Sam Harris to tech-gurus like Chade-Meng Tan, it is attracting a surprisingly diverse audience. Like yoga in recent decades, this derivation of a traditional …

Good Vibrations: Sonic Rituals and Sacred Time

“Please come on Saturday morning, by 6:50am to get settled in for the 7-8:30am gathering.” So read the email from Kathryn, one of my research interlocutors, who helps coordinate a small group …

Heart of Dharma: Comparing Buddhist Practice, East and West

A dozen or so Vipassana (Insight) practitioners have just ended a session of “sitting” (meditation) and discussion in one of the numerous Insight meditation centers in Los Angeles. In light of the …

A Meditation on the Nones

Anna Stephens was on a humanitarian mission to Sudan with the International Red Cross when she first read The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. For Anna, …

The Many Faces of Lord Krisha in the O.C.

It’s a Friday evening in Laguna Beach, an affluent seaside city in Orange County. In a converted two-story former Baptist church a short walk from the beach, a couple of hundred lay …