Body pedagogics and the religious habitus: A new direction for the sociological study of religion

Sociological theory has been central to the modern study of religion. In the face of the global resurgence of religious phenomena, however, and the challenge this has presented for the assumptions that characterised much twentieth century sociology,
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  Body pedagogics and the religious habitus: A new direction for the sociologicalstudy of religion Philip A. Mellor a , * , Chris Shilling b a Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK  b School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, The University of Kent, Cornwallis North East, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK Keywords: BodySociologyReligion a b s t r a c t Sociological theory has been central to the modern study of religion. In the face of the global resurgenceof religious phenomena, however, and the challenge this has presented for the assumptions that char-acterised much twentieth century sociology, there is a need for new theoretical models to make sense of religion today. This paper contributes to this task by building upon Durkheim’s suggestion that religioussocial facts become fully efficacious only when internalised, and Luhmann’s interest in sociologicalmanifestations of ‘transcendence’ and ‘immanence’, in order to analyse religion as a thoroughly embodied phenomenon that can be understood through the study of religious  body pedagogics . Having outlined thekey steps involved in the analysis of body pedagogics, we illustrate the utility of this realist frameworkthrough an ideal-typical representation of Christianity and Islam and reflect, via a consideration of several objections that could be directed towards it, upon how this approach can deal with thecomplexities and contingencies of contemporary religion. In conclusion, it is suggested that thissystematic body pedagogic focus on embodied commonalities and differences across diverse religiouscontexts offers a valuable basis upon which to engage critically with religion today.   2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Introduction Oneofthemostnotablefeaturesoftheacademicstudyofreligionhasbeen,andremains,itsmulti-disciplinarycharacter,yetsociologicaltheory has long had a central role in shaping its analysis. In particular, the theories of religion offered by sociology’s two most important‘classical’ figures, Durkheim and Weber, have exerted a decisive influence upon a range of approaches to religious phenomena. The globalresurgence of religion in the contemporary era, however, has presented a challenge to what can be seen as the methodological ‘default’position of many sociologists, namely, that religion is always the ‘dependent variable’, relative to secular phenomena deemed to be moreimportant. It was this position that underpinned the immense influence of the secularisation thesis in sociological thought (Martin,1991),and that continues to characterise many recent studies (Bruce, 2002). This is exemplified by Turner’s explanation of Islamic ‘fundamen-talism’ as a type of intervention into a ‘consumerist spiritual market place’, and as a product of ‘social dislocations produced by the globaleconomy’ (Turner, 2002, p. 117, 2006, pp. 440–1). The prioritisation of economics and culture over religious factors has been taken even further by those social constructionist theoreticians who efface religion by seeing it as ‘analytically irrelevant’ or simply a ‘mystifying’ideological means of obscuring more important developments (Fitzgerald, 2000, p. 197; see also Asad, 1993, 2003; Dubuisson, 2003; McCutcheon,1997). Under the influence of writers such as Michel Foucault and Edward Said, religion is represented in this constructionistpositionasaformofpopularandacademicfalseconsciousness;aconsciousnessthatcanberehabilitatedonlywhenitsubordinatesreligiontopoliticalfactorsbyunderstandingitasanideologicalandimplicitlyimperialistconstruct.Thisapproachmayseemradical,butitissimplya variation of the default position noted above.Given the fact that religion now occupies an increasingly central, if contentious, place in debates about society, politics and culture, thescepticism displayed by many religious studies scholars concerning this default position looks increasingly prescient, and has come to beshared bymanysociologiststoo.Influential accountsof globalisation, forexample, nowacceptthat religionis a ‘global category’of manifest *  Corresponding author. Tel.:  þ 44 (0) 113 343 3650; fax:  þ 44 (0) 113 343 3655. E-mail addresses: (P.A. Mellor), (C. Shilling). Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Religion journal homepage: 0048-721X/$ – see front matter    2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.religion.2009.07.001 Religion 40 (2010) 27–38  importance(Beyer,1994;Robertsonand Garrett,1991; Robertson,1992).In relatedmoves, sociologistsof religion inthe US havebeenat theforefront of critiques of the secularisation thesis (see Berger, 2001; Warner, 1993), and increasing sociological scepticism about secular-isationwithinEuropehasbeenevidenttoo(Beckford,2003;Davie,2000;Mellor,2004).Furthermore,inthecontextofaglobalexpansionof Christianity and Islam, and debates about an apparent ‘clash of civilisations’ between these across various parts of the world (Huntington,1996; Juergensmeyer, 2000; Jenkins, 2002; Nazir-Ali, 2006), it is not surprising that much conventional sociological thinking about religionhas been challenged in a variety of ways (Archer et al., 2004; Flanagan, 2008; Riesesbrodt, 2001).Of particular note in this respect is Beckford’s (2003, pp.1–2, p. 214) identification of two things that are illuminating in a general wayaboutreligioninthetwenty-firstcentury,but arealsosuggestiveof thecontinuingvalueofsociologicalapproachesformakingsenseof thissituation. First, and in contrast to the reductionism characterising the discipline’s default position, Beckford notes that religion today issociologically problematic precisely because its relationships with other social, cultural and political phenomena are increasingly unpre-dictable and complex. It is simply no longer possible in the light of this to assume that religion is a subsidiary factor in sociologicalexplanations.Second,hesuggeststhat,despitethis,whateverelsereligionsare,andhowvariouslytheymanifestthemselves,theyare social phenomena, dependent for their existence on the active work of   human beings . This emphasis does not mean that ‘the social’ necessarilytakes precedence over otheraspects of religious life. It does, however, drawattention tothe continuing importance of   sociological  questionsabout what religion is, how religious identities are constructed and transmitted, and what sorts of relationship religion has to other socialand cultural phenomena, while also reminding us of the specifically human underpinnings of these social processes and issues.The first of Beckford’s points clarifies why new theoretical models for the study of religion are necessary; the second suggests thefoundation on which these might be developed. While Beckford’s (2003) own diagnosis is that the current problematisation of religionexceeds what was imaginable for the ‘classical’ sociological theorists, and renders them of limited value, our view is a little different. It isclearly the case that new theoretical and methodological developments are needed to make sense of the renewed centrality of religion topublic life across the globe, but it is our suggestion that these can build productively on established disciplinary resources. Inwhat follows,we identify neglected aspects of  Durkheim’s (1982, 1995) sociological theory that are important for clarifying how diverse expressions of religion as a social phenomenon are based upon common humanpotentialities and capacities. Drawingon these, as well as more Weberianconcernsabout the differential effectsof ‘other-worldly’ religious orientations on ‘this-worldly’realities, wepropose that religionshould beunderstoodasasocialfactpossessedof thepotentialtoproduceculturallysanctioned embodied orientations toselfandworld,characterisedby a  transcendent   configuration of   immanent   social realities. This interpretation, we suggest, can be formulated into a framework whichviews religious life as a form of embodied pedagogics, or  body pedagogics . 1 Before developing this analysis, it is important to distinguish our focus on the embodied aspects of religious life fromwhat we regard asthe nominal interest in the body evident in some other approaches to religion. Dubuisson’s (2003, p. 211) study of religion, for example,identifies the body as providing the ‘raw materials’ for the construction of religious phenomena, but, in emphasising the ‘translation of thebody into texts’, effectively robs it of any substantive significance and therefore offers a discursively-oriented, essentially cognitive accountof religion (see Engler, 2004, 2006). A similar pattern has often been evident in the sociology of the body, where a focus on religiousrepresentations or images of bodies has effectively displaced questions about what bodies actually are, and how they themselves areintegrally and actively involved in the development and transmission of particular identities, experiences and religious forms (Shilling,2005a, p. 2; see Featherstone,1991; Grosz, 1994; Turner, 1984). In contrast to these incomplete engagements with the organic capacities of human beings, our focus on religious body pedagogics isconcerned not only with embodiment as a  location  for social facts, structures or images of symbolic importance, but as a physical andexperiential  mediator   of these phenomena and the basis on which a creative religious habitus can be produced as a potential outcome of theseprocesses.Weusethetermbody‘pedagogics’,ratherthan‘pedagogies’,inordertodemarcateourapproachtowardstheseissuesfromthe more conventional cognitive focus of much educational pedagogy. Firstly, following Durkheim, we view embodiment as a whole assomething actively implicated in the internalization and reproduction of religious social facts. Secondly, following Weber’s interest in theimpactofreligionupontheindividual’sconductoflife,weviewreligionsasphenomenathatseektotutorbodiesin  particularways ,allowingus to identify the  directional logic   that characterises the religious engagement with embodiment relative to other social and cultural forms(Roth,1987, p. 87). Inwhat follows, we suggest that the study of religious body pedagogics can notonly take us beyond the view that religion is necessarilysubsidiary in relation to other variables, but can also help account for some of the complexities, ambiguities and conflicts surroundingreligion across the world today. Initially, we model our approach through a comparative study of Christianity and Islam, though weacknowledge that the ideal-typical account offered here inevitably simplifies the myriad processes, complexities and variabilities involvedin the transmission and development of religious cultures. Nonetheless, in a series of reflections upon how this approach addresses thecontingency and complexity of contemporary religion, via a consideration of five objections that might be directed towards it, we defend itas a robust and productive general theoretical framework for the study of religion. The body pedagogics approach can provide us witha corporeally sensitive way of accessing some of the central elements involved in the development and reproduction of religious experi-ences, identities and cultural forms, and can assist us in making sense of their relative global importance. In identifying the foundations onwhich our approach is built, we return to the writings of Durkheim. External and internal social facts Durkheim’s(1982)analysisofsocialfactshasbeencentraltothemethodologicaldevelopmentofsociology.Treatingthevariouspatternsof ‘the social’ manifest inparticular societies, including their religious dimensions, as  supra-individual  phenomenawith the causal power toshape actions, thoughts, feelings and beliefs, Durkheim (1982, p. 52) defined social facts as ‘the proper field of sociology’. This definition,however, is more complex than it initiallyappears. In characterising social facts as ‘things’, as opposed to ‘ideas’, Durkheim (1982, pp. 35–6) 1 The distinctiveness of religious body pedagogics relative to other types of body pedagogics is signalled here by the transcendence/immanence component of thisdefinition, which can be contrasted to the this-worldly orientations of other types of body pedagogics, such as those centred on professional apprenticeships. P.A. Mellor, C. Shilling / Religion 40 (2010) 27–38 28  emphasisedthat theyare realities  external toindividuals, abletoexerciseconstraintupon them,but also stressed that ‘societyis made up of nothingexceptindividuals’ and that social facts are evident in the bodily  feelings ,  experiences ,  habits  and  appearances  of individuals as muchas in the institutional and morphological dimensions of society (Durkheim,1982, p. 39, pp. 52–3). Social facts act  on  individuals and  within them (Durkheim,1952, p. 57; Gane,1988, p.112). Furthermore, in an aspect of his work that is generally overlooked, Durkheim suggested that social facts are also founded upon, and have their generative  source  in, the embodied basis of the collectivity (Durkheim,1995, p.138;Shilling, 2005b, p. 214). While Durkheim occasionally referred to the natural body as profane, he also suggested that the prohibitions andimperatives surrounding its appearance,treatment and care demonstratethat it ‘concealsin itsdepth a sacred principle’that was a creativesource and generator of social facts (Durkheim,1995, p.138,125, 233). Thus, it is by ‘expressing their feelings’, by externalising them intosigns and symbols, that individuals can come toexperience collectivities (Durkheim,1973, p.160). If wewish to explore the parameters andcontentofasociety,therefore,weneedtoexplorenotonlytheexternal,observabledimensionsofsocialfacts,buthowtheseareinternalisedwithin the bodily dimensions of its inhabitants and how they may be associated with the generative capacities of embodied subjects.Durkheim’s interest in the internalisation of social facts is most fully developed through his studies of religion. Here, he makes threearguments. First, he stresses the role of emotions and ‘passionate energies’ aroused in collective religious assemblies which restructureindividuals’ interiorexperiences and thoughts (Durkheim,1995, pp. 212–3). Second, he discusses the importance of educating the thoughtsand feelings of individuals into collectively sanctioned religious ways of being (Durkheim,1961, pp.109–10,1977, p. 29). Third, he makes it clear that the power, and even the existence, of religion as a social fact is linked to the potentialities of the human body (Durkheim,19741973,1995, p.138). ForDurkheim, religionwas a fundamental aspectof human being. Religious social facts can be so readily internalised, in otherwords,becausetheyarealreadyconnectedtotheembodiedcharacterofhumans.As homo duplex beings,humansaremarkednotonlyby their immediate biological needs and vulnerabilities, but by social and moral capacities which enable them to join with others on thebasis of their collective embodied potentialities.Unfortunately,Durkheim’sengagementwithembodiment,whichiscentraltohisinterestinboththeinternalandexternaldimensionsof socialfacts,hasbeenoverlookedininfluentialapproachestoreligion.Thisismostimmediatelyobviousinthecaseofthosethathavesoughtto measure the social significance of religion simply through ‘external’ indicators such as church attendance. As Riesesbrodt (2001, p. 808)notes, the visions of writers such as Durkheim have generally given way to specialised forms of research, allowing for the accumulation of valuabledataaboutreligiousinstitutionsandrationalesforreligiousbehaviour,butatthecostofrestrictingresearchagendastowhatcanbequantified. This is evident in those who focus on participation rates in Christian churches, for example, or on the percentages of peopleclaiming allegiance to a particular faith yielded by survey data (e.g. Bruce, 2002; Draulans and Halman, 2005). Arguments about secular-isation have generally rested on such foundations.Durkheim’s concerns have also been obfuscated by those who have prioritised either emotions (e.g. Maffesoli,1996) or cognitive factors(e.g. Lukes, 1973) in their interpretations of his work, without acknowledging that  both  are important aspects of human embodiment forDurkheim. Religions are structured around processes through which individuals are integrated into, and empowered to act creativelywithin,societiesinawaythatisgroundedintheirembodiedcognition and emotions.Thus,people’sexperiencesof‘religiouslife’caninformthe core of their practical dispositions and beliefs, and motivate them to structure the world in particular ways (Durkheim,1995, pp. 34–6,p. 44, p.138).Finally, this marginalisation is evident even in the writings of those who  have  attributed some significance to the relationship betweenthebodyandreligion.Berger’s(1967)analysisofreligion,forexample,viewsthebodypurelyintermsofitsweaknessandvulnerability,andprioritises cognitive and psychological factors. Berger builds on the recognition that the ‘biological unfinishedness’ of humans requirescompletion by culture, and he acknowledges that this process involves the subjective appropriation of external social facts, but he focusesexclusively on the role of linguistic and communicative facts in bolstering what he sees as the existential fragility of the human condition(see also Berger and Luckmann, 1966). There is nothing in Berger’s account about people’s  creative  embodied potentialities, or about thesignificance of their variable emotional orientations towards religious life.Such partiality is also evident in the account of religion offered by Luhmann. Often portrayed exclusively as a systems theorist anda secularisation theorist, because of his argument that religion is merely one societal subsystem, religion is actually central to Luhmann’s(1977,1985,1998, 2000) vision of how social systems develop (Laermans and Verschraegen, 2001). The contingency of inter-corporeal ego/ alter relations  requires  the symbolic codification of a culture if they are to make sense to individuals: religion’s specific significance in thisrespect is not simply that it provides one source of such codification, but that it does so in a manner which provides people with a criticaland creative distance from existing social realities. This reflexivity facilitates the further evolution of social systems byenabling individualsto make critical judgements about the societies in which they live (Luhmann, 2000). A limitation of this argument, however, is that, inemphasising these social systems are based upon symbolic codification and communications  removed from  bodily dispositions, Luhmannurgessociologiststostudyreligious discourse andtherebyignorestheembodiedinternalisationandgenerationofsocialfacts(LaermansandVerschraegen, 2001, p.16; Luhmann,1998, p.137). Despite this cognitive focus, nonetheless, Luhmann’s argument that religion is centred on the distinction between immanence andtranscendence is of value for developing further Durkheim’s understanding of religion as a social fact. Arguing that religions characteris-tically view differentiated, finite and worldly phenomena (‘immanence’) in the light of a standpoint based in an infinite order (‘transcen-dence’), Luhmann (2000, p. 77) offers a sociological basis uponwhich to analyse the characteristics and consequences of religion relative toother social phenomena. This basis needs to be remodelled to include embodied and experiential factors, and so to take account of theontological as well as epistemological changes nurtured through religious  practice , but it recognises that religion is distinctive in that itencourages transcendent practices and beliefs oriented toward  other-worldly  phenomena (in contrast to the transcendence Durkheimidentified as equivalent to the individual becoming part of a  this-worldly  society).Indeed, if Durkheim established the importance of embodiment to societies and religion in a way that has been overlooked or engagedwith one-sidedly, there are ambiguities in his arguments concerning the causal role and specificity of   religious  processes that have beenaddressed productively by his successors (Durkheim, 1995, pp. 350–2). It remains unclear in Durkheim’s writing, for example, whatdistinguishes religious phenomena from other social facts that serve to attach individuals to collectivities (Mellor, 2004, pp.15–21). In thisrespect,anddespitetheirone-sidedengagementwithDurkheim’sembodiedconcerns,thewritingsofBergerandLuhmannprovideuswithresources that can supplement our understanding of the specificity of religion. The merit of these writings is that, albeit in an overly P.A. Mellor, C. Shilling / Religion 40 (2010) 27–38  29  cognitive way, they reminds us that being ‘religious’ is to do with the adoption of specific modes of (transcendent) orientation to(immanent)socialrealities.Unfortunately,aweaknessthatBergerandLuhmannsharewithDurkheimisthelimitedattentiontheydevotetohow the external and internal social facts of religion are manifested differently in  various  religious forms. Berger (1967), followingDurkheim’s (1952, 1961, 1984) example, is attentive to differences between Protestantism and Catholicism in relation to issues of socialintegration, but even here his overriding interest is in offering a  general  account of religion applicable to a very diverse range of contexts.As we have already indicated, elements of these accounts remain important, but they do not provide a satisfactory basis for a detailedinvestigation into the relative significance of the very diverse ways in which religion is inculcated into the body via specific techniquesacross different contexts. If we accept that religion is an embodied phenomenon involving the creation of distinctive kinds of experiences,dispositions and orientations to this-worldly and other-worldly phenomena, then religious differences are likely to be as important ascommonalities. The specificity of religion as a social fact relative to other phenomena may be based on the recognition of its capacity tocreateexperiencesof transcendencerelativetoimmanentsocialrealities,anditisthisfeatureofBerger’sandLuhmann’swritingswhichwesuggest needs to be incorporated into any new approach towards the study of religion, but the particular character and lived meaning of these experiences are contingent upon the distinctive techniques, rituals and cultural systems that facilitate their emergence. This is thecontext in which the study of body pedagogics has much to offer the analysis of religion. Religious body pedagogics The study of body pedagogics involves an investigation of the central institutional  means  through which a religious culture seeks totransmititsmainembodiedtechniques,dispositionsandbeliefs,the experiences typicallyassociatedwithacquiringtheseattributes,andtheembodied outcomes resultingfromthisprocess(ShillingandMellor,2007).Assuch,bodypedagogicsmovesfromaconcernwithidentifyingthe  external manifestations  of religious social facts, to an interest in how embodied subjects experience these facts, and to a focus on their internal dimensions  byexamining the extent to which they are actually embodied in a set of outcomes that can be referred to as a religious habitus . In general terms, the habitus (a concept dating back to Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas) refers to a socially structured bodilydisposition that organises each generation’s senses into particular hierarchies, predisposes people towards particular ways of knowing andacting,and promotesparticularorientationstotheworld.Itisimportanttonote,however,thatthe productionofaspecificreligioushabitusis not a  guaranteed  outcome of any single set of body pedagogic means and their associated experiences: people’s dispositions andorientations are dependent upon all manner of social influences, as well as upon how their bodily capacities and vulnerabilities react toreligiousforces. 2 Theextenttowhichaparticularreligioushabitus is producedasanoutcomeof theseprocesses,though,remainskeytothefuture vitality of that religion.We have already made it clear that this approach builds upon Durkheim’s concernwith the external and internal embodied dimensionsof social facts, supplemented with Berger’s and Luhmann’s concerns with the specificity of religion. It also possesses certain affinities withMauss’s(1950)writingson ‘techniquesof the body’and Foucault’s (1988)conception of ‘technologies of the self’, two figures wehaveyet to engage with, and it is useful to compare briefly our approach with these in order to highlight further its distinctiveness. Mauss’s analysisstartsfromhisobservationthattheseeminglymostnaturalwaysofmanaginganddeployingourbodiesinactionareshapedbyculturalandreligious traditions and techniques, while Foucault’s interest is in how texts and other forms of discourse shape people’s attempts todiscipline their own bodies according to ethical and religious norms. The analytical agenda of body pedagogics is wider than both of theseapproaches,however,inthatitaddressesthemeansoftransmissionandtheissueofexperiencemarginalisedbyMauss,andtheexperientialand ontological dimensions of embodiment neglected by Foucault. While Mauss tended to restrict his focus to what body techniques are,and how they differed cross-culturally, Foucault was more interested in how people sought to effect changes in themselves (a concern thatfollowed his earlier writings on how regimes of power constituted subjects) (e.g. Foucault, 1977, 1986). He remained uninterested inquestions of what the body was or how people experienced their embodied selves emotionally as well as cognitively.Another important distinguishing characteristic of our conception of body pedagogics is its  realist   underpinnings (see Mellor, 2004;Shilling, 2005a). These contrast with the descriptive and classificatory thrust of Mauss’s work on techniques of the body, and Foucault’stendency to engage in discursive reductionism. Foucault tends to assume that the structural ‘disciplinary regimes’ or forms of ‘bio-power’that happen to dominate at a particular historical juncture  determine  the capacities of subjects; an account that shaped the engagementswithreligionandthebodyofferedbyTurner(1991)andAsad(1993).Incontrasttothisanalyticalconflation,therealisminformingthestudy of body pedagogics is designed to recognise and respect the distinctive ontological properties of what is involved in the attemptedtransmissionofreligion, inpeople’sexperiences, andinthe actualembodiedoutcomesof thisprocess.Thus,thefocusonthecultural  means or activities of a religion directs attention to the practical ritual techniques and material affordances, as well as belief systems, employed inits organisation and delivery. The concern with  experience  focuses on people’s immediate emotional feelings and bodily sensations whenparticipatingintheseactivities,andthesubsequentinternalconversationstheyhaveabouttheirresponses(Archer,2003).Theconcernwithembodied outcomes focusesonwhetherthesemeansandexperienceshaveactuallyresultedinchangestopeople’svalues,totheircapacitiesand dispositions for action, and to any other aspect of their habitus. By recognising the distinctive properties involved in a religion’s bodypedagogics, this realist approach also allows analysis of howcultural means, people’s experiences and embodied changes  interact   and  alter  over time. The writings of Mauss, Foucault, and others whose engagements with the body and religion have been one-dimensional, incontrast, either do not address, or find it difficult to explain, the causal mechanisms involved in social change.In the light of the above, the potential utility of analysing religious body pedagogics might be especially clear in a detailed, empiricallyrich account of a religion in a specific context and locale. It is equally valuable, however, for broader,  ideal-typical  comparisons of different 2 By identifying the religious habitus as a contingent  outcome  of religious practices and beliefs, our use of the term differs from Bourdieu’s (1977) general conception of thehabitus as a  medium  which is both produced by and serves automatically to  reproduce  the environment in which it is forged. Operating at the level of the subconscious,individuals are fated in Bourdieu’s account to reproduce the conditions of their existence. Instead of being simultaneously the medium  and  outcome of religious means of transmission (Bourdieu,1984), the habitus, in our account, results from the interaction that occurs between religious phenomena and people’s experiences and reactions tothese phenomena. As such, there is no guarantee that it will have reproductive consequences. P.A. Mellor, C. Shilling / Religion 40 (2010) 27–38 30  religious forms, and it is this comparative approach weshall map out inwhat follows with regard to Christianityand Islam. For many socialconstructionists, of course, the very idea of ‘comparative religion’ is inherently dubious because of the ‘essentialism’ concerning differentreligious forms it is held to imply (Fitzgerald, 2000; McCutcheon,1997), but we make no assumptions about the ‘essences’ of religions, andcertainlydonotassumethatthedistinguishingandgenerativepropertiesofareligioncoincide,thoughwedoseektoidentifyinouranalysisofbodypedagogicsthecausalpowersthatshapereligiousidentitiesinparticularways(seeSayer,1997).AsWeber(1947,p.294)indicatedin his own use of ideal-typical comparisons, theyinevitablyassume a greater systematisation and unity in individual religions than is actuallythe case ‘in the flux of their actual development’, though their utility rests in their capacity to identify the key elements of a religion that‘have been decisive for the fashioning of the  practical  way of life’ (see Bendix, 1960, p. 280). It is in this spirit that we offer the sketch of ChristianandIslamicbodypedagogicsthatfollowsasanindicatorofthepotentialutilityofourapproach,thoughweshallthencomplementit with an account of how this could be developed in a way that engages more substantively with diversity and change. 3 The body pedagogic means While the religious meaning and significance of the body has been the subject of much debate, dispute and development across time(Coakley, 1997; Mellor and Shilling, 1997), the importance of embodiment to Christianity and Islam is both explicit and fundamental. ForChristians, Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the forgiveness of sins and eternal life are made possible through His suffering and resurrectedbody, and,inHiswake,theirultimate soteriological destinyis bodilyresurrection.If thebodyisimportanttoChristianity, itisalsocentraltothe practice and cosmology of Islam (Khuri, 2001). This is evident in the importance of activities such as prostration, ablution, circum-ambulation and fasting, as well as the rhythmic rocking and swaying of Muslim teachers and students that attends the recitation of theQur’an (Bowen, 1989; Starrett, 1995, pp. 954–5). Embodiment also pervades Muslim life more generally, being manifest in such areas ashealth in fears about organ transplantation, specifically regarding the incorporation of non-Muslim body parts, or the donation of Muslimorganstonon-Muslimbodiesnotworthyofthem(Alkhawarietal.,2005).Ifweconsiderhowthebodyisimplicatedinthespecificprocessesthrough which individuals become Christians or Muslims, however, the common focus on embodiment takes significantly different forms.The first stage in applying the body pedagogics model to an analysis of how the internalisation of a religion as a social fact becomespossible is to identify the primary ritual and other mechanisms through which the attempt to create a specific kind of embodied habitus isenacted. 4 It is through such means that key ideas, concepts and symbols within a religion may begin to reshape the experiences andidentities of individuals, though they also signal the fact that the cognitive, theological and normative dimensions of religion cannot gainsocial and cultural significance independently of bodily practices. Thus, in Catholic forms of Christianity, broadly understood, initiation intothe Church is defined as incorporation into ‘the Body of Christ’: to become a Christian is to enter into this embodied communion, with Godand with other Christians (Brown,1988; Miles,1992). Thus, it could be said that  communion  constitutes the primary body pedagogic meansthrough which Christianity is transmitted, initially through the ritual incorporation of individuals through the one-time rite of baptism,which is a thoroughly physical phenomenon, and not a mere symbolic marker of cultural transmission. This was particularly clear in theearly Middle Ages, wherebaptismwas notperceived as immersion into a field of representations, but as a reconstruction of the bodyas theprecondition forthe transformation ofideas andbeliefs (Miles,1992, p. 37). This understandinghas beenmaintainedinthe Catholic Churchtoday: baptism imprints upon the individual an indelible mark of their ‘belonging to Christ’ (Catechism, 1994, p. 288). The nature andsignificance of this incorporation is further evident with regard to subsequent participation in the communicative ritual of the Eucharist orHoly Communion, a ritual involving consumption in sacramental form of the bodyand blood of Christ. In a  dual pattern of incorporation , theindividual is incorporated into the body of Christ, while the body of Christ is incorporated into the body of the individual, in the form of breadandwine(Falk,1994).Thisritualisunderstoodasa typeofparticipationintheincarnation:justasJesusChristisGodmadeflesh,Godagain becomes embodied in the individual bodies of Christians (Catechism,1994, p. 276).WhileIslamas a social factis also internalised througha pedagogic reconstructionof the body, thistakes a significantlydifferentform tothat of Christianity. Both emphasise conformity to the Will of God, but where Christianity emphasises the need for  consent   to this (Cate-chism,1994, p.111), and the internalisation of it through ritual eating, Islam stresses  submission : indeed, the word ‘Islam’ is the Arabic for‘submission’, and we suggest that the primary pedagogic means through which Islam is transmitted serve to enact the submission of theindividual. Of particular note here is the ritual  salat  , the five-times-daily prayer that is a common feature of Sunni Muslim ritual acrossdiverse geographical and historical contexts.  Salat   constitutes a ‘dramatic gesture of submission’, beginning with the stylised, sung call toprayer, the cleaningof the body, the use of ritual space for its performance (eithera mosque or prayer rug), the veilingof women and use of prayer caps by men, followed by the silent yet mouthed recitation of Qur’anic verses during prayer cycles attended face-to-the-floorprostrations(Henkel,2005,p.487;Starrett,1995,pp.492–494).Throughtheseactionsthesubmissivebodiesofthefaithfulbecomevehicles for the internalisation and expression of Islam. 3 Following Weber, sociological approaches have long recognised the utility of ideal-typical models, particularly with regard to comparative studies, and not least becausetheycan yield provocative hypotheses. There are dangers in using them, however: we have alreadycommented upon those criticisms that reject their utility in principle, buta more nuanced criticism is that, while  appropriate  generalisation can be useful, there is always the temptation towards  over   generalisation that detailed empirical andhistorical study could not substantiate. We acknowledge the force of this criticism, and seek to bear it in mind in what follows, but do so in awareness of the fact that whatcounts as ‘appropriate’ remains open to debate, particularly in the present, where, in contrast to earlier generations of scholars of religion, perhaps, theoretical generalisationis regarded with a great deal of suspicion. As we suggest elsewhere in this paper, this suspicion can be counter-productive, e.g. when the scholarly problematisation of thewhole notion of ‘Islam’ contrasts so significantly with the views and experiences of the communities evident in empirical data (see Mandaville, 2007). In what follows, weseek to resist overextending our ideal types beyond what the data will allow, and, furthermore, follow this with a consideration of how our generalised arguments in thissection of the paper relate to those issues of historical and cultural diversity which are, necessarily, key elements of a more fine-grained study of comparative religiousphenomena. 4 Clearly, there are diverse patterns of bodily practices that, in various ways, serve both to reshape the experiences of individuals and tie them into collectivities:historically, fasting and various other forms of asceticism, for example, have an importance in this regard common to Christianity and Islam. What we are particularlyinterested in here, however, are those ritual forms that have a particular centrality in terms of the processes through which individuals acquire a religious identity, even if these are supplemented or elaborated through a range of other ritual practices. P.A. Mellor, C. Shilling / Religion 40 (2010) 27–38  31
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