5 RESEARCH DESIGN
Teaching courses in the sociology of American religion, I am often approached by students who say something like, ‘I have an interesting topic for my paper in your class but I don’t know how to go about researching it. Can you help me?’ The gap between these two-an interesting topic and an appropriate research design-is not uncommon for students in religious studies. Partly this is because the study of religion lacks a distinct methodological approach of its own and borrows methods and logics of study from various disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, and increasingly from the evolutionarycognitive sciences, but also the modern study of religion, as a fi eld liberated from the confi nes of theological refl ection, emerged as an intellectual hybrid with diverse roots in the history of phenomenology, philosophy and textual studies on the one hand, and anthropology,
sociology and psychology on the other hand. There is no singular, widely accepted paradigm of study.