Our research has taken place in Vancouver, Canada and London, England, cities that are rich in ethnic, religious and social diversity.
Vancouver is located in Cascadia, the region from California to British Columbia (sometimes referred to as the Pacific Northwest). Cascadia has been characterized by ecological spiritualities with deep connections to the landscape and environment; a diversity of individualized, eclectic spiritualities; and a strong social ethic. Christianity has historically had less influence in structuring society in this region as there has not been a state church. Other religious traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism have long been present.
Unlike Canada, England has a state church, the Anglican Church of England. London has long been characterized by this and more recently by a growing number of black-majority churches (i.e., Pentecostal and Evangelical traditions). It also possesses a high population of non-Christian religions and members of these traditions have grown since the previous Census in 2001 (e.g., Hindu, Muslim and Sikh). Like Vancouver, it has also seen a rise in those reporting and identifying with no religion.
To understand the social relations of prayer and more broadly how this reveals how individuals, groups, and societies manage to work things out in the everyday, we conducted fieldwork in ten hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities in Vancouver and London. The research sites were alike as publicly funded healthcare organizations, but also varied in some important ways, including that some sites were religiously-affiliated.