Developing critical realist comparative methods for researching religions, belief-systems, and education

Chris Williams


Education is increasingly implicated in religious and other ideological issues, but contributions from comparative education have been surprisingly rare. From the definition ‘belief-systems’, this paper reviews relevant comparative methodologies, and proposes that a ‘critical realist comparative’ approach can reduce methodological weaknesses. It concludes that ontology and epistemology can apply current perspectives on ‘fake-news’ and ‘fact checking’. The UNESCO ‘disarming history’ framework can encourage non-confrontational educational discussions and the participatory creation of curricula and teaching materials. Appropriate research frameworks entail locating studies in terms of people, places, and/or systems, and the methodologies for researching powerful people and organisations can improve data collection methods. Crowdsourcing research and online research, including big data, increase the scope of these methods. Diverse participation improves research, and the paper provides ideas for involving young people.


Education; religion; belief-systems; ideologies; critical realist comparative studies; curricula; teaching materials

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