Since February 2019, Sheryl and I have been engaged in a small project that has been investigating the work of women healthcare chaplains. This has been generously supported by the Seed Corn Award we received from the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion Study Group (SOCREL). Women healthcare chaplains, dealing with human fragility and wellbeing, are at the forefront of creating more flourishing forms of living well together at the intersections of faiths, values, communities and cultures (Beaman 2016, 2017). Questions about their work emerged from the Prayer Project. Through qualitative interviews and group dialogues with chaplains, we have found their work can be transformative. For example, in the assumptions that are exposed about self and others, connections made across differences, continuities of care they provide in the face of difficult decisions about medical treatment, and through ordinary acts to encourage equality between groups and individuals. Simultaneously, they contend with multiple marginalities because of questions about their legitimacy in light of financial pressures on healthcare systems and in an increasing secularizing society. We were also curious about and heard from the women how the intersecting structures of gender and race can play a role in their movement between the centre and margins of healthcare systems and the religious institutions of which they are affiliated. This project moreover hopes to raise the visibility and significance of their work, particularly in relation to lessons to be learnt about fostering human flourishing and living well together.
Beaman, Lori. 2016. “Living Together v. Living Well Together: A Normative Examination of the SAS Case.” Social Inclusion 4 (2): 3-13.
— 2017. “Living Well Together in a (Non)Religious Future: Contributions from the Sociology of Religion.” Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review 78 (1): 9-32.
*Photo by Markus Spiske, Unsplash