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Rooms of Silence at Three Universities in Scandinavia

Journal article
Authors Henrik Reintoft Christensen
Ida Marie Høeg
Lene Kühle
Magdalena Nordin
Published in Sociology of Religion
Volume 80
Issue 3
Pages 299–322
ISSN 1069-4404
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 299–322
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sry0...
Keywords chaplains; Scandinavia; religion and the state; diversity/multiculturalism; space; university
Subject categories Sociology

Abstract

In recent decades, a new type of room has been established in public institutions in Europe: the rooms of silence. In this article, rooms of silence at three Scandinavian universities are analyzed with focus on intention, materiality, and use in relation to increased religious diversity in the student population, individualization, and ongoing secularization. This is done by using a typology which distinguishes between individual and collective use and use associated with religious, spiritual, and secular practices. The analyses show that plans and policies for the rooms emphasize stress-reduction and spiritual or secular reflection. The chaplains actively facilitate the shift from collective to more individual use of the rooms. The analyses also show that the restricted materiality of the rooms shapes practices in ways that either hinder collective Muslim prayer or force students to perform prayer as an individual “silent” action.

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