Social generation as a lens: A qualitative take on generational theory

Frederique A. Demeijer, Hijme C. Stoffels

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article explores the utility of generational theory in conducting and analysing qualitative interviews investigating individual religious experiences. We used generational theory in three ways: first, to select respondents; second, to select the interview method; and third, to analyse and contextualize the interviews. We interviewed six members of the Apostolic Society, a Dutch religious denomination, each belonging to a different social generation, and the interviews used life narrative techniques. In line with generational theory, experiences during their formative years were discussed as being influential on their individual (religious) experiences within the Apostolic Society; these experiences were then related to larger societal developments. Our findings suggest that generational theory offers an additional lens through which to perform and analyse qualitative research on religion, which may complement other fieldwork research methods in religion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalFieldwork in Religion
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019


  • Generational theory
  • Individual religious experiences
  • Life narrative interviews
  • Qualitative research design


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