Social Generation as a Lens

A Qualitative Take on Generational Theory

  • Frederique A. Demeijer Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Hijme C. Stoffels Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Keywords: generational theory, qualitative research design, individual religious experiences, life narrative interviews

Abstract

This article explores the utility of generational theory in conducting and analysing qualitative interviews investigating individual religious experiences. We used generational theory in three ways: first, to select respondents; second, to select the interview method; and third, to analyse and contextualize the interviews. We interviewed six members of the Apostolic Society, a Dutch religious denomination, each belonging to a different social generation, and the interviews used life narrative techniques. In line with generational theory, experiences during their formative years were discussed as being influential on their individual (religious) experiences within the Apostolic Society; these experiences were then related to larger societal developments. Our findings suggest that generational theory offers an additional lens through which to perform and analyse qualitative research on religion, which may complement other fieldwork research methods in religion.

Author Biographies

Frederique A. Demeijer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Frederique Demeijer is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Religion and Theology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and at the University of Cape Town and graduated cum laude from the Master’s programme in Culture, Organization and Management at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research interests are in anthropology, lived religion and oral history.

Hijme C. Stoffels, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Hijme Stoffels is Emeritus Professor of Sociology of Religion at the Faculty of Religion and Theology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His main areas of interest are religious communities and movements. He has published in the areas of evangelicalism, Orthodox Protestantism, new religious movements and immigrant churches. His current research concerns the role of religion in urban settings.

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Published
2019-11-08
How to Cite
Demeijer, F. A., & Stoffels, H. C. (2019). Social Generation as a Lens. Fieldwork in Religion, 14(1), 53-69. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.39500
Section
Articles