The Porcupine Tango: What Ethnography Can and Cannot Do for Theologians

Ethnography and theology are two contrasting life-activities, regulated by separate ideals. Like other sciences, ethnography is regulated by the ideal of ‘truth’. It gathers data about human communities, particularly their worldviews and their tacit social practices. New data correct old conclusions...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Ecclesial practices
Main Author: Spickard, James
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: 2016
In:Ecclesial practices
Year: 2016, Volume: 3, Issue: 2, Pages: 173-181
Further subjects:B ethnography theology regulative ideals science
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
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Summary:Ethnography and theology are two contrasting life-activities, regulated by separate ideals. Like other sciences, ethnography is regulated by the ideal of ‘truth’. It gathers data about human communities, particularly their worldviews and their tacit social practices. New data correct old conclusions, forcing ethnographers to discard the ideas with which they began their investigations. Following the regulative ideal helps them avoid placing their concerns about those of the people they study. Theologians (and others) can use ethnographic methods to gather data about congregational life, how people practice their religions, etc., but this practice itself is not ‘doing’ theology.
ISSN:2214-4471
Contains:In: Ecclesial practices
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/22144471-00302003