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Home arrow Religion arrow On Roman Religion: Lived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome

Methodical Consequences

Certain consequences must be accepted if one wants to use the idea of the individual (and individual appropriation of religion) and that of individuality in religious studies to counter the claim of uniqueness in descriptions of “modern” religiosity. These begin with the choice of the objects of research: the focus is on individual practices, on life-cycle rituals in their importance not only for the constitution of communities, as Victor Turner has emphasized,[1] but also for the process of individuation. Family or individual religious practices in the domestic sphere (which can encompass areas outside the house, such as burial grounds) accrue. Religious activities, from common banqueting and prayer to shared dedications in different social and urban spaces and in changing groups, must not be viewed as solidified or permanent, or as well-organized “cults” and “religions,” formulating and achieving far-reaching normative claims and identities. Instead, they must be analyzed with regard for their temporary and situational character, with regard for the many roles that were involved and the widely diverse strategic interests of the participants. Through the lens of individualization, religion is as much a traditional system of symbols as it is a strategic option for an individual.[2]

  • [1] Turner 1982.
  • [2] See Rupke 2015b.
 
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