Taking Talk Seriously: Religious Discourse as Social Practice

Robert J. Wuthnow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Talk is easily regarded as having lesser value in studies of social phenomena than action, interaction, and organization. Yet talk is an important way in which humans act, interact, and organize themselves. In this article, I examine how talk has been used in recent decades in the study of religion and in related work on culture and institutions. I argue that careful empirical examination of talk has already significantly increased our understanding of both the micro and macro processes involved in the construction of social life. I discuss four objections to taking talk seriously and show that these objections should not deter investigations in which talk plays a central role. I offer examples of recent work that poses new conceptual and theoretical questions, complements quantitative studies, and provides insights about changing historical and contemporary social conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies


  • Cultural sociology
  • Methodology
  • Narrative
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Triangulation


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