Insiders, outsiders, advocates and apostates and the religions they study: Location and the sociology of religion

Critical Research on Religion 1 (2):129-140 (2013)


Awareness of how researchers’ locations and sympathies influence their research agendas and outcomes has long been a topic for methodological consideration. This article complicates that question by considering the position of the researcher in relation to the position in society of the religions researched, and asks whether what we understand as constituting criticism or advocacy varies depending on whether the religions in question are powerful, dominating traditions or small, new, and/or beleaguered traditions. The Locations Matrix is an application of the insights of standpoint analysis to the question of critical research in the sociology of religion. Researchers’ own locations—as an insider, an outsider, an apostate and/or an advocate—have consequences for the questions they ask, and to whom they address them, as well as how they interpret the data they collect. This article pushes scholars of religion to reflect on the significance of their own location in relation to the location of the religion they study.

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Citations of this work

On a Balanced Critique.Jonathan Boyarin, Rebekka King & Warren S. Goldstein - 2017 - Critical Research on Religion 5 (1):3-8.

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