Children's Perspectives on Religion: The Case of Christian Children in Tamil Nadu, India
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This thesis is about Christian children's perspectives on religion in Tamil Nadu, India. More specifically the thesis seeks to explore how children view religion and how they seek knowledge about religion in their daily lives, examine what role religion plays in their everyday lives and examine how children's perspectives on religion influence their social practices. Various theories and concepts are used to analyze children's perspectives on religion. A broadened conception of the sociology of religion together with a broadening up of the conception of sociology of childhood has given this study an advantage to shed a new light on children and religion. A mosaic research approach involving multiple, qualitative methods of data collection have been used. The combination between several different participatory tools (see appendices) and the more traditional methodology of interviewing and observations provided me with a wellgrounded understanding of – and factual insights into – children's perspectives on religion. It has often been proved challenging for children to grasp what religion is. However, this study has found out that children's perspectives on religion were rather straightforward and related to something personal and everyday life experiences. Children in this research had their own personal experiences on religion and highly, idiosyncratic ways of thinking. Religion is constantly encountered in all the arenas of Christian children's lives in Tamil Nadu. This study has found that religion plays a major role in helping children actively negotiate their own religious lives in the overlapping spaces between children's and adults’ worlds; spaces of play, school and friendships. It was found out that children's perspectives on religion influence their social practices, and their social practices influence their perspectives on religion. Furthermore, the findings of this thesis reveal that viewing children either as human beings or human-becomings should be brought to the level of hybridism. From this study's theoretical examinations and empirical findings on both the social and religious aspects of children's lives, the artificial analytical 'being-becoming dichotomy' is both non-existent and fluid. Children are both human beings and social agents in their own right; and human-becomings in search of maturation seeking for changes and transformations in their social, spiritual/religious lives.