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Essentialism i religionsundervisningen: Ett religionsdidaktiskt problem
Dalarna University, School of Education and Humanities, Religious Studies. (Minoritet, identitet och autenticitet)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9963-8124
2012 (Swedish)In: Nordidactica - Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education, ISSN 2000-9879, no 2, 106-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Essentialist concepts of religion are common in the teaching of religion in schools and to a certain extent also in the academic discipline of religious studies. In this article, a number of problems with essentialist perceptions of religion are discussed. In the first part of the article a thesis is maintained, according to which essentialist conceptions of religion or specific religions are too limited to be of value in the teaching of religion. This is done through examples of essentialist expressions about religion. The examples are grouped according to a typology of different kinds of essentialism. Two main categories, each with two sub-categories are identified. Thus, the category of essentialism regarding the substance of religion is divided into transcendental or theological essentialism (which presupposes the existence of a sacred power of some kind, the experience of which is the basis for religion), and core essentialism (where it is presupposed that certain ideas or concepts constitute religion as a general category or specific religions). Likewise, the category of essentialism regarding the function of religion has two sub-categories: positive and negative essentialism. These kinds of essentialism presuppose that religion or specific religions are inherently good or harmful respectively to human beings. Examples from each of these categories are given and discussed. In the second part of the article, Benson Saler’s open concept of religion is presented as an alternative to essentialist or bounded perceptions. It is based on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea of family resemblances and on prototype theory. In connection with this, it is argued that a certain kind of conscious ethnocentrism is needed as a point of departure in the study and teaching of religion. The metaphor of education as a journey from the familiar out into the unfamiliar and back again is suggested as a possible pattern for such teaching. Finally,some examples of non-essentialist ways to introduce religions are offered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: CSD, Karlstad Universitet , 2012. no 2, 106-137 p.
Keyword [en]
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Kultur, identitet och gestaltning, Essentialism i religionsundervisningen
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-11196OAI: diva2:565143
Essentialism i religionsundervisningen
Available from: 2013-02-08 Created: 2012-11-06 Last updated: 2013-12-11Bibliographically approved

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