To what extend do the religion and/or spirituality of the social scientist influence her/his research?

Do beliefs on the part of the researcher influence the research question?

The myriad of research methods available today, emphasise the socially situated nature of knowledge and hence the need to specify the knower. As such we need to account for the ways in which assumptions, feelings, biases, and anticipated outcomes might influence research questions, interpretation and representation of the experiences of the research participants. While these ideas are often extensively discussed in relation to other influences on identity, such as race, gender, and class, there is as yet limited discussion on how spiritual and religious identity might influence research.

In his article: ‘Making conscious choices in doing research on workplace spirituality: Utilizing the “holistic development model” to articulate values, assumptions and dogmas of the knower’ Marjolein Lips-Wiersma argues that in researching workplace spirituality (a topic that is saturated with subjectivity) it is not only legitimate, but central, to safeguard the quality of the research project, that the researcher articulates the dogmas, definitions, fears and desires he/she brings to the research.

The article discusses several literature‐based examples of how assumptions influence the research-project. Using his own research as an example, Marjolein Lips-Wiersma utilises the ‘holistic development model’ to show how spirituality and religion influence various research choices and practices.


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