Recent quantitative sociological research gives clear evidence that people in the late modern societies around the Baltic Sea combine seemingly incommensurable religious beliefs and practices in their everyday lives. For instance, people simultaneously define themselves as both Buddhist and Christian, or describe themselves as Muslim whilst still celebrating Christian holidays. What does this mean? In what ways do people deal with these apparent inconsistencies in their religious practice? And what does this say about the urban religious landscape around the Baltic today?
This project consists of a number of interrelated empirical and qualitative studies that address these questions based on fieldwork material gathered from three specific neighbourhoods in Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm. In order to reach the vast majority who do not fit within the traditional denominational borders in these cities, we will conduct a door-to-door survey, which will be followed up by in-depth semi-structured interviews.
Central to the project is this new methodological approach in which the material is demarcated geographically instead of denominationally (i.e. we will choose informants from a neighbourhood instead of, as is common, from a religious congregation). We believe this is important because when it comes to research about religious people on a grass-roots level, denominational delimitations are problematic. This is so because they risk making the researcher ascribe beliefs, affiliations and loyalties to people’s religiosity that may not be there. Through this project we hope to be able to draw a picture of contemporary urban religiosity around the Baltic that is thoroughly based in the experience and testimony of ordinary people