The Silence of Spirituality within Sociology of Childbirth
Epistemological and Methodological Considerations
Keywords:Sociology of childbirth, sociology of religion, spirituality, new research methodologies, qualitative methodologies
AbstractA slow-pace spiritual revolution is occurring ‘right under our noses’. There is an increasing realization that the belief in an authentic spiritual reality, often outside of the Church, is growing among the mainstream population. This growth of a spiritual reality is reflected among various academic disciplines—psychology, religious studies, midwifery and anthropology are but a few examples. However, it appears largely absent within sociology of childbirth and only in an ‘infantile’ stage within sociology of religion. This is surprising considering the extensive research spanning multiple decades across the two fields. It leaves one to question whether the lack of research on spirituality is an actual reflection of the lived experience of the individual or a reflection of the epistemological and methodological terrain of the discipline itself. To better understand this, an historical overview is presented on the research carried out within sociology of childbirth and religion. It is argued that there is a twofold reason behind this silence. First is the domination of theoretical concerns around very specific issues within both fields of the discipline—namely medicalization and secularization. The second relates to the methodologies employed, more specifically within sociology of religion. While the sociology of childbirth has at its disposal the methodological tools necessary to study spirituality it appears that it lacks the paradigm that is open to the study. Paradoxically, sociology of religion possesses the required paradigm but requires the expansion of its methodological tools to develop its study into the field.
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