By Yvette Taylor, University of Strathclyde
The question of how class and religion intersect is something that I have been considering since beginning the ESRC project Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth where a mostly middle-class sample sought to stretch normative understandings, practices and identifications of what 'religion' could be. Their normative, yet sometimes precarious, middle-class status was something that enabled pathways out of and into various religious practices. This mobility included a re-discovering of religion in, for example, university locations and alternative scene spaces, something arguably unavailable to their working-class counterparts. As always, we 'finish' research projects with more questions and I return to and reconsider these with co-editors and contributors of the Special Section in Sociological Research Online on Class and Christianity. The relations between social inequalities and religion have received attention, yet the particular connections between Christianity and class are less examined, even as understandings of religion have problematized the alignment of Christianity with State political and economic interests.
Guided by Sarah-Jane Page, who set up research meetings over several years and pulled authors and editors together, our aim was to re-engage class with religion and to retell the mutual relevancies, changing shape, character and containment. Of course, this re-engagement happens within a particular social time, where debates on securitisation and the integration of minority religious communities, sit alongside ideas of – and indeed calls for – secularization; and where increasing financial injustice has triggered protest and intervention among religious organisations, now even held responsible for standing-in in place of welfare provision. In the Special Section we variously probe at how we take-up space, and undertake research projects able to speak to this classed-religious intersection, at a time when religion generally might occupy a rather 'suspicious' place within the discipline of Sociology. This suspicion is also felt at a policy level where responses to and debates on Equalities legislation and provisioning often pits religion as automatically against other protected characteristics (often focused particularly on debate on sexuality and gender see here). Aiming for a less suspicious, and less sidelined, perspective, the Special Sections brings together a real range of fascinating research, contributing to illuminating the dynamic intersection between Christianity and class.
Read the full Special Section in Sociological Research Online on Class and Christianity.