The Other in the curriculum : ethnographic case studies on the spiritual, moral, social and cultural dimensions of religious education in sites of value commitment and contestation in the UK

Lundie, David Charles Athanasius (2011) The Other in the curriculum : ethnographic case studies on the spiritual, moral, social and cultural dimensions of religious education in sites of value commitment and contestation in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (3MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


Recent public debates over the place of religious education in the curriculum have focused attention on the threshold status of the subject. While the subject makes claims to an academic standing equal to others in the humanities, for many years its status in the curriculum has relied on a multiplicity of claims as to the effectiveness of religious education in preparing young people for life in a multicultural society. Beginning with an appreciation of the factors which have influenced policymakers and key theorists, this thesis traces the conflicts and controversies in the definition of the subject. Approaches to religious truth claims and cultural practices in the curriculum are evaluated with reference to prominent public critiques of the subject. Although these approaches are neither exhaustive nor exclusive, they form the basis of anxieties about the place of religious education in the curriculum. These anxieties are located within a broader crisis of multiculturalism and anxieties about the role of values in an increasingly performative and examination-driven educational environment.
Employing an ethnographic paradigm, a series of in-depth case studies were carried out in secondary schools in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England in 2009, with particular emphasis on students between the ages of 14 and 16. In the course of these case studies, two strands of data analysis emerged, with findings clustered around 10 key themes. A linguistic approach at times takes priority within the analytical framework, while other data lends itself to multimodal analysis, providing rich contextualisation for the linguistic encounters.
Focusing on four case studies, some key pedagogical approaches relating to the ways in which religious education deals with religious and cultural commitment and diversity are examined in detail. This analysis, drawing on theological and pedagogical theories, provides a richly contextualised series of findings relating to the spiritual, social and affective dimensions of religious education, in critical sites where identities and truth claims are highly valued and highly contested. The depth and authenticity called for in these contexts go beyond performative and examination-driven approaches, requiring a robust sense of teachers’ professional values and identity. Key strengths emerge in observed practice which are not reflected in pedagogical literature. The empirical findings have relevance to public debate about the aims, practices and models of effectiveness in British RE.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Religious Education, Multiculturalism, Pluralism, Linguistic Ethnography, Anthropology, Philosophy of Education, Delphi Method, Spiritual Education, Moral Education, Cultural Theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Creativity Culture and Faith
Supervisor's Name: Conroy, Professor James and Davis, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr David Lundie
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2654
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:58

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year