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Marsden Grant – The Longitudinal Study of Cohesion and Conflict

Tuesday 5 November 2019 3:19pm

The Longitudinal Study of Cohesion and Conflict: Testing Hypotheses of Social and Religious Change in Fiji

We are very pleased to announce that Dr John Shaver was awarded a Marsden Fast-start grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Religion is ubiquitous, yet the fundamental question of how religion affects people remains unclear. Some see religion as social glue; others view it as a mechanism for social control.

To understand where societies are heading we must understand how people become connected to others, and how leaders motivate obedience and conserve power. Existing datasets cannot settle enduring debates.

We will collect longitudinal ethnographic and cooperative network data from individuals living in Fijian villages and squatter settlements undergoing intense social change, creating the Pacific’s first longitudinal ethnographic study of religion and society. By simultaneously measuring individual and community units over time, these social conditions will function as “natural experiments,” affording an understanding of the dynamic interplay between religious institutions, cooperation and inequality.

Published datasets, data analysis scripts, and data visualisations will furnish an enduring and fully open scholarly resource; five peer-reviewed articles in high impact journals, four conference presentations, a workshop, and a new methodological textbook will advance a pioneering quantitative approach to the ethnographic study of cultures among the next generation of social researchers.

Dissemination of findings will involve local communities in applied policy recommendations.