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Call for Papers

Praxis and practices in theology: Current tendencies and challenges

About the conference

In theology and practical theology the recent ”empirical turn” has encouraged comprehensive research into practices in organised and individual forms of religion. This has provided a richer understanding of the practical, social and material side of religious life as a topic for theological reflection. It has also suggested that theological reflection and knowledge is not separate from actual practices, but embedded in them. At the same time, profound questions for theology and practical theology alike have appeared. What does ”practice” refer to in the domain of religious life, and how can it be fruitfully investigated? How can theological understanding and knowledge be understood in terms of praxis, as theory formed and re-formed in practice? And what do these claims imply for empirical studies in theology and practical theology as a constructive and normative enterprise?

In this conference, we discuss and reflect on these questions through key note lectures, paper presentations, debates and informal conversations. We invite scholars from practical theology, theology, and other disciplines interested in these questions, to join us! The conference is targeting a Nordic audience in particular, but welcomes participants from other countries as well!

Call for papers

The so-called “empirical turn” is a current tendency in theology. Empirical studies of various kinds play an increasingly important role in theology in general and in practical theology in particular. This turn is partly intertwined with the more comprehensive ”practical turn”, which has developed in scientific theory and disciplines within the last five to six decades. A growing interest in praxis and practices has therefore been an important manifestation of the broader theological interest in empirical studies.

This is related to a wide set of perspectives. First, it pertains to the study of religious life in terms of practices, understood as social actions and their embodied character as mediated also through language, artefacts, symbols and rituals. This has generated a vast array of studies of concrete practices of religious life, in its organised forms as well as its everyday forms of ”lived religion”. Second, it relates to the significance of the ”practical turn” with regard to theological reflection and understanding. It entails a concentration on the way practice – or praxis, as it is often used in this connection – is also a way of knowing. Here ”praxis” denotes how theological reflection and understanding are enacted through and partly constituted by social and material interactions, and how it therefore also poses a challenge to theology. And third, this interest in the field of praxis and practices is related to the idea that the normative dimension of theology is not located in the rational mind and cognition as something separate from the social world and its practices. Quite on the contrary, it is embedded in it. Consequently, empirical research in theology is not conceived in contrast to theology as a normative enterprise, but as an integral part of it.

However, these interests in praxis and practices have also generated a number of pervasive questions. What do we understand by practice and praxis respectively? To the extent that ”practice” refers to units of planned social interaction, including its material dimensions, how do we describe and research it? And how is the study of traditional practices of organised Christian religion related to the study of individualised and everyday religious practices, in the theological as well as practical theological enterprise? How can other academic fields, such as social sciences and interdisciplinary approaches, play a role in a theological investigation of praxis and practice-related topics? And how do we develop the interrelation and intertwinement between empirical and normative research in theology and practical theology, and perhaps in other academic disciplines with a strong, normative tradition?

These are among the questions we pose for reflection and discussion in the conference.

We welcome papers from practical theology and the other theological disciplines, as well as other academic disciplines addressing topics related to the above description, including:

  • Conceptual, methodological and theoretical discussions of the categories of praxis and practice
  • Case-studies of religious practices
  • New religious practices as a topic for theology and practical theology
  • Praxis and practices as enacted / embodied theologies
  • Historical studies of religious practices
  • The relation between empirical and normative research in theology, practical theology and other disciplines
  • Implications for theological teaching and education
  • Praxis and practice as perceived within different theological disciplines
  • In addition, there will be an open channel for PhD students to present their research in the area of practice and theology and / or within practical theology that might fall outside the scope of these topics.


Deadline for submission of paper abstracts: 15 June, 2016

Format: max. 200 words


Paper abstracts should be sent to:


Those who submit their paper abstracts within the deadline will receive a response by 1 July, 2016


Paper abstracts will be made available on the conference website 15 September, 2016