Questioning the Category of ‘Spiritual Capital’ Drawing upon Field Studies of ‘Spiritual Entrepreneurs’ and their Role in the Economic and Social Development of British South Asian Muslims


  • Ron Geaves Cardiff University



Islam, Muslims in Britain, social capital, sociology of religion


The article explores the categories “social” and “spiritual capital” used by sociologists and argues that, on the basis of field studies, by the author and also Pnina Werbner, carried out on “spiritual entrepreneurs,” namely South Asian origin Sufi shaykhs in the UK, the category of “spiritual capital” needs to be sharpened, even redefined, in order to create distance from the category of “social capital.” The article critically explores a number of social theorists who have commented on spiritual capital as a form of social capital and challenges their understandings of religious phenomena.


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Author Biography

  • Ron Geaves, Cardiff University

    Ron Geaves is Visiting Professor in the Centre for Study of Islam in Britain based in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University. He has previously held Chairs in the Study of Religion and the Comparative Study of Religion at the University of Chester and Liverpool Hope. He is a pioneer of the study of Muslims in Britain, carrying out a number of empirical studies and publishing on the development of religious life within Muslim communities since 1988.


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How to Cite

Geaves, R. (2016). Questioning the Category of ‘Spiritual Capital’ Drawing upon Field Studies of ‘Spiritual Entrepreneurs’ and their Role in the Economic and Social Development of British South Asian Muslims. Fieldwork in Religion, 10(2), 232-247.