Evangelical Journeys Reviewed in the Irish Journal of Sociology

evangelical journeysFrom time to time I stumble across reviews of my research that I missed the first time around. Recently I found Mary Gethins’ review of my 2011 book, co-authored with Claire Mitchell, Evangelical Journeys: Choice and Change in a Northern Irish Religious Subculture, which was reviewed in 2012 in the Irish Journal of Sociology, volume 20, issue 1, pp. 108-110.

Gethins is an independent consultant sociologist working outside academia, and the author of Catholic Police Officers in Northern Ireland: Voices out of Silence (Manchester University Press, 2011).

While copyright restrictions do not permit reproducing the review in full, I quote selectively from it below.

You can read other reviews of Evangelical Journeys, as well as my other books, here.

Review of Evangelical Journeys by Mary Gethins, Irish Journal of Sociology

Mitchell and Ganiel conclude from their research that Northern Irish evangelicals and those who have abandoned evangelicalism are active agents in shaping their religious journeys, notwithstanding the strong influence of early religious socialisation and other structural factors. By finding patterns of experiences and combinations of factors which can function as possible indicators of religious change in certain circumstances, the authors do not claim to have discovered another theory. Instead they claim to provide a close-up snapshot of where evangelicals figure on the Northern Irish canvas and hope that their work will broaden the debate about religion in a post-Belfast Agreement context. They assure us that, even though superficially it may appear that evangelicals in the province do not change their religious beliefs much over time, deeper probing shows all of them to be on some form of religious journey, actively involved in identity work, which inevitably includes coping with adjustments and tension, ‘still working out their faith in innovative and unexpected ways’.

Interest in the sociology of religion is a growth area within the academy and in a general global context is of increasing interest to various constituencies working to bring post-conflict societies along a path of peace and reconciliation. This book will surely strike a chord in such places but also in the Republic of Ireland, which has become home to immigrants from a wide variety of religious backgrounds, including large numbers of evangelicals. For this reason Irish sociologists may find inspiration to pursue research along lines similar to those chose by these co-authors.

Evangelical Journeys is well-written in easy style with no seams showing where contributions from the authors join up. Mitchell and Ganiel achieve what they set out to do – to give readers depth of analysis and to further our insights without attempting to test their findings against international comparisons. …

Overall, this book is a thoughtful, honest, professional piece of work, a notable addition to the literature and accessible to a wide readership.

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