Discourses, Institutions and Populations: Religion in an Urban Ecology

By Stringer, Martin D. | Cross Currents, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

Discourses, Institutions and Populations: Religion in an Urban Ecology


Stringer, Martin D., Cross Currents


I first met Lowell Livezey in Chicago in the early 1990s. Lowell was in the early stages of the Religion in Urban America Project (Livezey 2000a) and I was part of a group from the Department of Theology in Birmingham who had come to Chicago to explore questions of young people and violence in the city (Read and Wollaston 2001). It was clear to both of us that we shared a great deal in common. We were both fascinated by, even obsessed with, the city and the idea of the city. We had both had experience of community organizing in different fields. We were both committed to the idea that the study of the city must involve direct contact with real people and real communities. We both saw and hoped to be able to demonstrate the very important role that religion does, and should play within the contemporary city.

There were also a number of significant differences. Lowell had far more experience in a range of different activities than I did; he was older and undoubtedly wiser. I had background training in anthropological and ethnographic methods that Lowell told me he wanted to learn from. The kind of cities I was used to in the UK, Manchester and Birmingham were very different from Chicago, Boston and New York, which have been the major centers for Lowell's work. More importantly, perhaps, Britain and the United States had had a very different history of religions, of religious institutions and of immigration and all these were to affect the different ways in which we each thought about essentially the same issues.

Lowell was to focus, in much of his work, on neighborhoods and religious institutions, although almost always on the local institution, the neighborhood church or synagogue rather than national structures (Livezey 2000b). I began to be interested not so much in the institutions, although I have done some work within congregational studies (Stringer 2004), but more on the people who do not claim a religious identity and do not link into institutional networks (Stringer 2006). This does, to some extent, reflect differences between Britain and the United States, but to stretch this too far would be to distort the real picture. There have been some very important studies of religious institutions within British cities (Guest 2007), and some very significant work on the understandings of religion among ordinary people with the cities of the United States (Bender 2003). Both Lowell and I, however, had our main focus on the local, on the intra-city aspects of religion.

During our many discussions over the intervening years, as we met at various conferences, or while sharing hospitality in Chicago, Vermont, New York or Worcestershire, we both talked about how we might be able to build on our own, and our colleagues', individual work on the local role of religion in the city and to be able to talk more broadly and more generally about the role of religion within the city as a whole. Other theorists have attempted this, with greater or lesser success, but these have tended to be scholars working entirely at the theoretical level, without the rootedness in the local that has been such an important part of both our work (see e.g., Baker 2007, Sandercock 2003, Sassen 1991). We were also conscious of the difficulty of talking about the city as a single unit and trying to decide either where its boundaries should be drawn, or what kind of model or map of the city we might be working with (political, economic, cultural or whatever). I am not sure that we ever got to a satisfactory conclusion to these debates, and nor, I guess, were we really trying to. In this essay, however, I want to take the opportunity to put some of that thinking down on paper and to attempt an initial foray into thinking about the roles of religion within the city as a whole. My only regret is that this will only ever be one side of our discussion. I really miss the possibility that Lowell could reply, and I therefore invite others to enter into the discussion in order to continue the debate. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Discourses, Institutions and Populations: Religion in an Urban Ecology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.