The divergence of religious practices from one individual to another has long baffled scholars of contemporary religion, whose research often assumes that individuals commit, or refuse to commit, to an entire institutionally-defined package of beliefs and practices. Social surveys typically ask respondents to self-identify by denominational or other broad religious categories. Sociologists attempt to measure religiosity according to how well individuals conform to the official religious standards, such as frequency of church attendance, scripture-reading, or prayer. In this book Meredith McGuire points the way forward toward a new way of understanding and studying religious behavior. Rather than try to fit people into prearranged packages, she argues, scholars must begin to study religion as it is actually lived and experienced in peoples' everyday lives.

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