Religious diversity is an ever present, and increasingly visible, reality in cities across the world. It is an issue of immediate concern to city leaders and members of religious communities but do we really know what ordinary members of the public, the people who live in the city, really think about it? Major news items, inter-religious violence and notorious public events often lead to negative views being expressed, especially among those who would not consider themselves to have a religious identity of their own. Martin Stringer explores the highly complex series of discourses around religion and religious diversity that are held by ordinary members of the city; discourses that are often contradictory in themselves and discourses that show that attitudes to religion vary considerably depending on context and wider local or national narratives. Drawing on examples from UK (particularly Birmingham, one of the UK's most diverse cities), Europe and the United States, Stringer offers some practical suggestions for ways in which discourses of religious diversity can be managed in the future. Students in the fields of religious studies, sociology, anthropology and urban studies; practitioners involved in inter-religious debates; and church and other faith leaders and politicians should all find this book an invaluable addition to ongoing debates.
Contents: Religion and urban theory; Discourses of diversity; The two towers; Religion in a context of super-diversity; Taking to the streets; The year of the golden pig; Urban memory; managing discourses of religious diversity; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Martin Stringer took up a lectureship in the sociology and anthropology of religion at Birmingham University in 1993 and has maintained a constant interest in Christian worship, contemporary religious practices and the development of congregational studies in the UK. He founded and ran the Worship in Birmingham Project from 1998-2003. In October 2007 he was awarded a chair in Liturgical and Congregational Studies and has undertaken a number of significant managerial roles within the University. Over almost twenty years in Birmingham Martin has worked closely with a wide range of churches and other faith groups in inner-urban areas of the city. He is currently Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor with responsibility for planning, staffing and community relations. He is the author of many books and articles.
Reviews: ‘Martin Stringer has produced a fascinating “bottom-up” account of the discourses about religious diversity now flowing through Birmingham’s urban culture. Focusing on four arenas in which religious difference becomes manifest - clothing, buildings, festivals, and current event news items - Stringer charts the different ways in which people confront or ignore diversity, and the ways in which difference is downplayed or attributed to ethnic culture, or religion. The result is an insightful analysis of the ways in which religion, culture, and politics become intertwined and how the latent can be as problematic as the manifest. Through it all there is keen attention to the latest currents in urban social theory, making this a book for students of cities, of religion, of immigration, and of contemporary modern society.’Rhys H. Williams, Loyola University Chicago, USA
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Chapter 1 - Religion and urban theory
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