Monday, January 30, 2012

Journal Entry #8

So during last class we discussed our research projects in a very frank, pragmatic way that got me thinking about what I'll be doing on the ground each day while I'm in London. Essentially, my question is a rather simple one:

What do Britons think about the decreasing religiosity in their society?

The answer is key, because as far as I have been able to observe through my research, the nation is very polarized, and the heavier end of the spectrum is shifting more and more to the nonreligious. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that religious practice provides many different benefits to society, from physical health to strong marriages. Powerful figures like Prime Minister David Cameron have made arguments for a more assertive confirmation of religious convictions, and especially Christian values, in society (see the post below for Cameron's comments). It will be incredibly interesting to discover how the British people, and the various minority groups that can be found in London especially, feel about these changes in the country, and what they feel are the major impacts on their society.

However, then comes the question of how exactly I'm going to do it. It would be possible to ride the tube back and forth between stations, and talk to individuals about how they feel about this issue. What I might do is hand out a simple survey to people seated on the subways (like 2-3 questions) and ask them how they feel. I can visit schools, churches, cathedrals, and political buildings. I could interview families in their homes. I'm not going to have a camera though, and all in order to get direct quotes I'll have to have some sort of recording device, and disclaimers, and signatures...

Otherwise, I"ll have to use a pre made survey to evaluate each short conversation, or collect printed surveys from people.

That's going to be a lot of printing costs.

3 comments:

  1. I can't sleep, and when I can't sleep I watch TED talks. Tonight I watched this one:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_atheism_2_0.html
    I thought you might like to see it. It is a british person, at least I think he is british, talking about how atheism...I can't even think right now, here is the description from the website, it will probably do a better job anyways:

    What aspects of religion should atheists (respectfully) adopt? Alain de Botton suggests a "religion for atheists" -- call it Atheism 2.0 -- that incorporates religious forms and traditions to satisfy our human need for connection, ritual and transcendence.

    And just a thought, I am most probably wrong, but from how you write, how you treat what you write, and your comments in class, I might suggest that perhaps as you prepare yourself culturally to visit england or great britain or whatever, are you preparing yourself to be culturally immersed in what you are studying? Just like someone going to Thailand really needs to understand and in some ways embrace Buddhism or someone who is going to Nigeria needs to embrace village life kinds of things, you are very good at sympathizing and understanding religious britons, but are you working to be able to immerse yourself and understand the atheistic/non-religious point of view? This really isn't a criticism, just from a logical standpoint, I feel like if you are incapable of treating non-religiosity as seriously and respectfully as you would Sikhism or the local village government, you are going to miss important ways of considering your research and may miss some important connections that you might otherwise have. But maybe I am wrong, it is just a sort of methodological thought that I didn't know if you had taken into consideration.

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    1. Thanks Rem. I think you're absolutely right. I have a very strong bias coming from my background and my beliefs, and as much as I would like to believe that I see things fairly, appreciating beliefs (or the lack thereof) is something I will have to strive to understand. If I don't, this project will be only skin deep--my white, Mormon, RM skin. I'll take your comment to heart and try to immerse myself more in what many people in Britain surely see as a logical and reasonable way of believing. After all, if they didn't, not so many people would be opting for that road as the years go by.

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    2. and it really isn't an accusation, you may seriously have taken this all into consideration and know how your project is going to work, it is just what i thought

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