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Women, Gender and Religion

7. Everyday, Practical Religion

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In this module, we think about the beliefs and practices that make up what we might call 'everyday' religion, focusing in particular on: (i) the kinds of 'religious' activities that take place beyond the organised, institutionalised forms of religion (e.g. the church), e.g. checking one's horoscope, visiting a psychic or medium, etc.; (ii) the practice in Asian countries of having a small altar in one's house, featuring various 'meaningful' physical objects; (iii) the mixing and matching of beliefs and practises in Japan – Buddhist ritual around death, Christian ritual around marriage, Shinto ritual in everyday life, etc.; and (iv) the gender politics of these various practices: why is it that women tend to engage in these forms of religious practices and beliefs more than men?


In this course, Professor Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University) explores religion through the lens of feminism/gender studies. In the first module, we explore some classic feminist critiques of Christianity, including the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Mary Daly (1928-2010). In the second module, we think about why women appear to be more religious than men, before turning in the third module to consider why some women living in gender-liberal societies choose to convert to gender-conservative forms of religion. In the fourth and fifth modules, we look at the work of two religious reformers – Fatima Mernissi and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza – before turning in the sixth modules to a range of women who took a more radical approach to the problem of misogyny in the religion they were brought up in. Finally, in the seventh module, we move beyond the major, institutionalised religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.) to consider more 'everyday' religious beliefs and practices, e.g. checking one's horoscope in the newspaper, visiting a psychic or medium, etc. and exploring the extent to which these too are patterned by gender.


Professor Linda Woodhead is Distinguished Professor of Religion and Society at Lancaster University. She has written widely on religion in modern society. Her recent publications include That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (2016) (as co-author), Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (2014), and Everyday Lived Islam in Britain (2013) (as co-author).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Woodhead, L. (2021, August 23). Women, Gender and Religion - Everyday, Practical Religion [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Woodhead, L. "Women, Gender and Religion – Everyday, Practical Religion." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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