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Everyday ReligionObserving Modern Religious Lives$
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Nancy T. Ammerman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305418

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305418.001.0001

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 When a Funeral Isn't Just a Funeral: The Layered Meaning of Everyday Action

 When a Funeral Isn't Just a Funeral: The Layered Meaning of Everyday Action

(p.121) 7 When a Funeral Isn't Just a Funeral: The Layered Meaning of Everyday Action
Everyday Religion

Ziad Munson

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the common social science focus on identifying a singular authentic meaning of social phenomena leads us to misunderstand the role of religion in contemporary life. Using data drawn from a national study of the American pro-life movement, it argues that the religious sphere frequently and easily overlaps with everyday domains such as politics and the family. In this overlap, events take on a polysemous character; they contain within them multiple, irreducible meanings that become available to both participants and outside observers. Ultimately, such polysemy is more than just an intellectual curiosity or problem of categorization; it is a key site of human agency in creating new possibilities for meaning and action.

Keywords:   social science, pro-life, politics, polysemy, agency

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