University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday April 01, 2011. 03:30 pm. GUGG 205

Geographies of religion and class: young people in deprived Britain

Elizabeth Olson

University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences

This paper considers how the experiences of young people growing up in contexts of economic deprivation can inform academic understandings of religion and class. The relationship between religion and class has been an unpopular area of study in the past three decades, with very few new insights emerging since Weber, Marx and Gramsci envisioned religiosity through the lenses of ideology, opiate and praxis. Whereas contemporary studies of religion have failed to engage adequately with spatial theory when engaging class and religion, geographers have been reticent to bring the two together, preferring to focus on intersections with race and ethnicity. The resulting spatial oversight leads to a rather narrow focus on the predictive power of deprivation and poverty in determining religious affiliation, inhibiting the development of a broader social critique. Drawing upon interviews, participant observation, and films and images produced with and by young people in two British urban neighbourhoods, I illustrate the different ways that religion and class intersect in their homes and communities. I conclude by suggesting a more historically and spatially contingent understanding of the co-production of religion and class.