This chapter discusses the three dominant themes of the book: secularism and society; marginalisation of religious and spiritual issues; and reflections on social science research methodologies. In the first part of the book, which focuses on secularism and society, contributiors argue that secularism is a powerful framework for understanding. Contributions in this section map out the early engagement with religion in the social sciences and the eventual banishment of religion and spirituality to specialist studies. They contend that spirituality and religion pose significant challenges for social scientific research as it has developed in the Western tradition. The rise of social science disciplines is closely linked to the ideas of modernity, when scientific rationale overcame and replaced doctrinal outlooks and perceptions, and religion and spirituality became marginalised as parochial and unscientific. The contributors in this section also investigate the ways in which discourses of secularism and religiosity are played out in particular social areas. The second section focuses on the growing body of social science research which challenges the marginalisation of issues on religion and spirituality. Many of these challenges come from new and emerging scholars who were not content with the hegemonic social science approaches because this traditional approach is believed to hinder researchers from fully engaging with issues of religion and spirituality. The final section reflects on the social scientific tools of analysis that are utilised to document, explore, critique, reflect, and acknowledge the religious and spiritual dimensions to individual's lives and communities. Both the qualitative and quantitative researchers in this section brought their own perspectives and experiences to bear on the methodologies and processes used.
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