Religious identity, social space, and discourses of religious education reform in Scotland and Malawi: a Bourdieusian analysis

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Abstract

This article analyses the complexities of religious identity and stakeholder discourse concerning religious education (RE) reform in Scotland and Malawi. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of ‘social space’, it explicates the extent to which religious identity and conflicts over symbolic power in the social space of RE reform engender polarised debates imbricated by entrenched ideological positions because agents’ discourse in the social space draw on elements of their particular culture, tradition, spiritualties, and theologies. A comparative analysis of qualitative data from Scotland and Malawi reveals stakeholders’ reflections, frustrations, and insights on the conflicting nature of religious identity in the discourse of RE reform in a social space where symbolic struggles are inimical to the production of common sense. Despite the data arising from two countries with different socio-cultural contexts—one African and religiously conservative (Malawi), the other European and secular-liberal (Scotland)—the findings reveal similar challenges regarding how agents engage with RE reform in the social space, and the complications that religious identity engenders in that dynamic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-238
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Religious Education
Volume69
Early online date31 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • religious identity
  • RE reform
  • Scotland
  • Malawi
  • Pierre Bourdieu
  • social space

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