Issues Arising from an Ethnographic Investigation of the Religious Identity Formation of Young People in Mixed-faith Families


  • Elisabeth Arweck University of Warwick
  • Eleanor Nesbitt University of Warwick



empirical research methods and ethics, ethnography, mixed-faith families, religious


This article documents and discusses issues arising from an ethnographic study of the religious identity formation of young people growing up in mixed-faith families. It reports and reflects on challenges to the design of our project, possible explanations for these challenges and the ways in which we addressed them. The areas where we encountered difficulties relate, firstly, to the combination of traditional ethnography with cyber-ethnography and, secondly, to sampling, interviewing and participant observation. There are implications for our project and for future empirical studies of families, especially those with particular focus on religion, culture and identity. The intention of this article is thus twofold: to make a contribution to debates regarding methodsand ethical aspects of ethnography and, through the reflections on our research experiences, to inform researchers who may face similar challenges.


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Author Biographies

Elisabeth Arweck, University of Warwick

Elisabeth Arweck is Senior Research Fellow in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU), Institute of Education, University of Warwick, and an Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion. Her recent research has focused on the religious socialization and nurture of young people. Recent publications include a number of co-authored articles (with Eleanor Nesbitt) and (co-edited) volumes, such as Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age (with Chris Deacy; Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2009) and Reading Religion in Text and Context (with Peter Collins; Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2006). She is the author of several book chapters and of Researching New Religious Movements in the West (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007).

Eleanor Nesbitt, University of Warwick

Eleanor Nesbitt is a Professor of Religions and Education in the WRERU, Institute of Education, University of Warwick. Her research has focused on interfaces between religions and education and, especially, the religious socialization of young Christians, Hindus and Sikhs in the UK. Her publications include The Religious Lives of Sikh Children: A Coventry Based Study (Community Religions Project; Leeds: University of Leeds, 2000), Interfaith Pilgrims (London: Quaker Books), Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches (Sussex Academic Press, 2004), and Sikhism a Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).


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How to Cite

Arweck, E., & Nesbitt, E. (2010). Issues Arising from an Ethnographic Investigation of the Religious Identity Formation of Young People in Mixed-faith Families. Fieldwork in Religion, 5(1), 8–31.




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