Transcending Methodological Atheism and Not Thinking Transcendentally

Nuns’ Understanding of Life within the Cloistered Monastery


  • Marcin Jewdokimow Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University



female cloistered monastery, monasticism, lived, everyday religion


The main goal of the article is to propose an alternative approach towards the monastery, which relies on overcoming methodological atheism and is rooted in a lived, everyday religion approach. In order to do so, in the first section, I reconstruct Peter Berger’s methodological atheism, discuss its limits, and point to alternative methodological approaches. In the second section I present elements of my sociological study of a female, cloistered monastery, focusing on the dichotomy between obedience and autonomy in nuns’ experiences of life within a cloistered monastery. If understood from a classical perspective, the two traits seem contradictory. My research suggests that some nuns perceive these two characteristics as supplemental rather than contradictory. I propose that using an approach that focuses on lived, everyday religion, rather than an approach focused on religious experience (methodological atheism) allows for a comprehensive interpretation of how monasteries work and how monks and nuns operate in this specific environment. It also allows for the integration of social actors’ understanding of their environment into investigation.


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Author Biography

Marcin Jewdokimow, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University

Marcin Jewdokimow is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland. He is the author of A Monastery in the Sociological Perspective: Towards a New Approach [Klasztor w perspektywie socjologicznej: w poszukiwaniu nowego ujęciu] (2018) and the co-editor of A Visual Approach to the Study of Religious Orders: Zooming in on Monasteries (Marcin Jewdokimow and Thomas Quartier OSB (eds), 2019, Routledge).


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How to Cite

Jewdokimow, M. (2019). Transcending Methodological Atheism and Not Thinking Transcendentally: Nuns’ Understanding of Life within the Cloistered Monastery. Fieldwork in Religion, 14(1), 70–84.




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