Abstract

Although the field of lived religion embraces a wide range of theoretical orientations in its varied focus on embodied religious practices, materiality, and daily discourse, almost all studies of lived religion rely on a spatial contrast between everyday life on the streets and a (less distinctly identified) non-daily view of religion “from above.” How can the methods and approaches cultivated in the sociology of lived religion be used to investigate the so-called “elite” spaces: places of religious and secular power, and other places deemed imaginary, or false, or where religion might be, somehow other-than lived? The paper offers examples of what kinds of questions might be differently engaged by sociologists by taking the case of Frank Lloyd Wright’s unrealized plan for a future city called “Broadacre City” (1935–1959). The article explores this modern secular project’s investments in promoting a particular kind of religious experience as constitutive of the American democratic project, and argues that such sites are increasingly important to sociological demands for understanding contemporary religious and secular life. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of how such an approach might also reinvigorate and reframe a wider range of questions in the study of religion.