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How can big data shape the field of non-religion studies? And why does it matter?

  • Balazka, Dominik; 151076;
  • Houtman, Dick; 90858;
  • Lepri, Bruno;
Publication Date
Jun 11, 2021
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The shift of attention from the decline of organized religion to the rise of post-Christian spiritualities, anti-religious positions, secularity, and religious indifference has coincided with the deconstruction of the binary distinction between "religion" and "non-religion"-initiated by spirituality studies throughout the 1980s and recently resumed by the emerging field of non-religion studies. The current state of cross-national surveys makes it difficult to address the new theoretical concerns due to (1) lack of theoretically relevant variables, (2) lack of longitudinal data to track historical changes in non-religious positions, and (3) difficulties in accessing small and/or hardly reachable sub-populations of religious nones. We explore how user profiling, text analytics, automatic image classification, and various research designs based on the integration of survey methods and big data can address these issues as well as shape non-religion studies, promote its institutionalization, stimulate interdisciplinary cooperation, and improve the understanding of non-religion by redefining current methodological practices. / status: published

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