When scholars use mono-method strategies to identify broad religious or secular groups in a population, they often encounter significant problems. Quantitative studies have difficulties in interpreting the groups because of a lack of local knowledge, while qualitative studies often lack generalizability. The present study uses a mixed methods approach combining a representative survey (N=1229) and semi-structured interviews (N=73) to better address these problems. I identify four basic types of (un)belief: Institutionals, Alternatives, Distanced, and Seculars. These types show very different religious/secular beliefs and practices, and significantly differing images of “God.” I argue that this typology is more complete than former attempts, since it combines quantitative generalizability with interpretation grounded in qualitative material. An intergenerational perspective shows that the growing “secular” group will, in the future, outnumber the current largest group of “distanced” individuals.
This article is located at and motivated by the intersection of two grand narratives of current times: the search for meaning and well-being. My aim in this article is to critically review the entanglements of the two core concepts – well-being and meaningfulness – and to explore both religion and, more especially, the expertise of sociologists of religion in relation to them. The core argument of the article centres on the bridging role of sense of meaning: meaningfulness is a more crucial mediator between religion and well-being than that which is usually depicted. The article consists of three parts: the first part introduces the concept of well-being, and criticism of it, as well as contributing illustrations of the critical core assets – particularly of sociologists of religion – in these issues. The second part explores the exact role of religion, benevolence and belonging with respect to well-being, while the third offers reflections of and on sociology, in relation to the core issue of well-being.
The theme of this article is young lived Tamil Hindu religiosity in small towns and rural districts in Norway. It explores when and why young Hindus choose to expose, or not to expose, religious materiality outside religious settings, such as in encounters with ethnic Norwegian friends and the greater Norwegian society. The article also asks whether it is possible to trace influences on their religiosity stemming from their non-Hindu local and national contexts. The analysis is based on field notes from observations, written responses to a questionnaire with open-ended questions (N=25) and transcripts from photo-elicitation interviews (N=7). The participants are between 16 and 25 years of age who have lived most of their lives in Northwestern Norway. The findings suggest that adjustment to secular cultural scripts take place when these young Tamil Hindus handle religious materiality in their Norwegian context.
During the last 20 years, the number of people who are religiously unaffiliated in Norway has increased considerably, from four percent in 1991 to 14 percent in 2012. Using Norwegian survey data collected in 2012, I examine two aspects of the religiously unaffiliated: i) their social characteristics compared to the religiously affiliated and members of the Humanist Association, and ii) the predictors of unaffiliation using logistic regression. The results show that the unaffiliated are younger and include a larger proportion of individuals with a higher education than the religiously affiliated. Their social characteristics are often placed in between the affiliated and the humanists, suggesting a multifaceted social category. Certain factors, such as having had an unreligious upbringing and having friends with different religions, are highly predictive of unaffiliation. The most influential factor is rejection of a God or a higher power. Surprisingly, gender is insignificant in predicting religious unaffiliation in Norway. Possible interpretations are discussed.