Practical theology as a subject area has grown and become more sophisticated in its methods and self-understanding over the last few decades. This book provides a complete and original research primer in the major theories, approaches and methods at the cutting-edge of research in contemporary practical theology. It represents a reflection on the very practice of the discipline itself, its foundational questions and epistemological claims. Each chapter examines different aspects of the research process: starting with experience and practice, aspects of research design and epistemology, communities of learning, the influence of theological norms and tradition on the practice of research, and ethical considerations about what constitutes `the good' in advanced research.
The uniqueness of this book rests in its authoritative overview of current practical theological research across a range of traditions and approaches, combined with a comprehensive introduction to research methodology. It offers worked examples from the authors, their colleagues and research students that serve to illustrate key ideas and approaches in practical theological research.
The four authors are all internationally-leading scholars and rank amongst the most influential figures in practical theology of their generation. The book promises to be of interest to students, teachers and researchers in practical theology, especially those looking to conduct original practice-based enquiry in the field.
Zoe Bennett is Director of Postgraduate Studies in Pastoral Theology for Anglia Ruskin University and the Cambridge Theological Federation. Elaine Graham is Grosvenor Research Professor of Practical Theology at the University of Chester and Programme Leader of the Doctor of Professional Studies in Practical Theology. Stephen Pattison is Professor of Religion, Ethics and Practice and H.G. Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham. He is director of the Doctor of Practical Theology programme at the University. Heather Walton is Professor of Theology and Creative Practice in the School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow and Director of its Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology.
Introduction 1 Locating ourselves: Starting where we are 2 Reflection, reflexivity and the research journey 3 Researching religious practice and performance 4 Communities of practice 5 Finding a critical space: Interpreting and inhabiting traditions 6 Framing the view 7 Ethos, process and outcomes 8 Conclusion: Moving on