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The Trouble with 'Inclusion': a case study of the Faith Zone at the Millennium Dome

Gilliat-Ray, Sophie ORCID: 2004. The Trouble with 'Inclusion': a case study of the Faith Zone at the Millennium Dome. The Sociological Review 52 (4) , pp. 459-477. 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2004.00491.x

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Some sociologists of religion would argue that there has been a move away from ‘religion’, in terms of institutionalised dogmas and established corporate ways of believing, towards ‘spiritualities of life’ where the emphasis lies on the personal, the individual and the experiential (Heelas, 2002; Wuthnow, 2001). Given the evidence for the apparent popularity of spirituality in contemporary Western society, it is surprising that between 1996 and 2000, the Zone concerned with religion at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich was re-named from‘The Spirit Zone’to‘The Faith Zone’. A range of political, economic and religious interests lay behind the Zone’s re-naming, and both the name (and the content) changed to reflect ‘religion’ rather than ‘spirituality’. The process of constructing the Zone thus moved in a diametrically opposite direction to some of the trends associated with religious belief in modern Britain. An investigation of the dynamics behind the construction of the Faith Zone at the Dome provides an opportunity to evaluate what ‘counted’ as religion (Beckford, 2003) at a specific time and context in British society. The paper also shows that behind the Labour Government rhetoric of ‘inclusion’, various dimensions of spiritual belief and activity in Britain are excluded from the public sphere. When it comes to religion, taken-for-granted criteria operate – resulting in the prioritisation of the official, the ‘representative’, the ‘respectable’, and ‘the unified’ over the unofficial, the deviant, the private, and the contested. This paper looks at the struggles and the conditions associated with the idea and the policy of inclusion in relation to religion in modern Britain, using the Faith Zone at the Dome as a case study.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1467-954X
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 10:03

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