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The Sociology of Religion

The Sociology of Religion
A Substantive and Transdisciplinary Approach

Other Titles in:
Sociology of Religion

July 2008 | 464 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Using a lively narrative, The Sociology of Religion is an insightful text that follows the logic of actual research, first investigating the facts of religion in all its great diversity, including its practices and beliefs, and then analyzing actual examples of religious developments using relevant conceptual frameworks. As a result, students actively engage in the discovery, learning, and analytical processes as they progress through the textùjust as a scholar pursues knowledge in the field and then applies theoretical constructs to interpret findings.This unique text is organized around essential topics and real-life issues and examines religion both as an object of sociological analysis as well as a device for seeking personal meaning in life. While primarily sociological in focus, the text incorporates relevant interdisciplinary scholarshipùthus teaching sociological perspectives on religion while introducing students to relevant research from other fields. Sidebar features and photographs of religious figures bring the text to life for readers.Key Features and Benefits:Uses substantive and truly contemporary real-life religious issues of current interest to engage the reader in a way few other texts doCombines theory with empirical examples drawn from the United States and around the world, emphasizing a critical and analytical perspective that encourages better understanding of the material presentedFeatures discussions of emergent religions, consumerism, and the link between religion, sports, and other forms of popular cultureDraws upon interdisciplinary literature, helping students appreciate the contributions of other disciplines while primarily developing an understanding of the sociology of religion InstructorÆs Resources on CD-ROM· InstructorÆs Resources on CD-ROM contains chapter outlines, summaries, multiple-choice questions, essay questions, and short answer questions as well as illustrations from the book. Contact Customer Care at 1-800-818-SAGE (7243) to request a copy (6:00 a.m.û5:00 p.m., PST).Intended Audience: This core text is designed for upper-level undergraduate students of Sociology of Religion or Religion and Politics.
Chapter 1 Theory
Sociological Theory and Religion

Death and the Meaning of Life

Classical Theory

Emile Durkheim

Karl Marx

Max Weber

The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism


Of Priests and Prophets—Establishment versus Charisma

Middle Sociology—World War II and its Aftermath

Race: The Great Religious Divider in the United States

The Evil Enemy

Women as Other

Religion after World War II

Theory and Religion Today

References and Further Reading

Chapter 2—A Sociological History of Religion
Section i ?Premodern Religion
The Dawn of Religion

Social Change and two Great Shifts


Inclusive Monotheism (Henotheism)

Exclusive Monotheism

Transition from Paganism to Christianity

What Happened to Paganism?

The Role of Class

The Role of Culture

The Engines of Religious Change

The Medieval Period

Schism and Crusades

Early Modern Period

The Witch Craze

Rise and Transformation of the Work Ethic

Section ii. Religion in Modern Times
Modern Times

Vital Religious Experience and Personal Volition: The First and Second Great Awakenings

Religion and Race: Slavery and Its Aftermath

American Evangelicalism

The Rise of Progressivism and Fundamentalism

Religion and the Rise of Modern Manhood


American Innovation: The Democratization of Religion

The Twentieth Century

Civil Rights and the Vietnam War

Fundamentalist Resurgence

Religion after the Cold War

Religion Today and in the Near Future


Chapter 3 Superstition and the Supernatural

Sparta and Athens

The Virgin Mary in a Small German Village

Witches and the Devil in Salem



Chapter 4 Alternative Religion

Analytical Concepts

On the Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Vacancy of the Self in Modern Life

Conformity—The Case of the Latter-day Churches

Innovation—The Case of Unitarian Universalism

Ritualism—The Case of Roman Catholic Traditionalism

Retreatism—Voudou in the New World

Caribbean Variations



Revolution—The Case of Native-American Resistance

References and Further Reading

Chapter 5 Religious Intolerance and Violence

Exclusive Monotheism

Icons—Intolerance of Religious Imagery

The Cathars—Intolerance of Heresy


Violence and Intolerance in Modern Times



Women’s Fundamentalism in the Middle East


Fundamentalism in the US—The Christian Right

Christian Violence






Chapter 6 Evil
Sociological Relevance

Evil Around the World



China and Japan

Native America

The Persians

Co-Discussion—“Gods and Devils” by Mark P. Worrell

References and Further Reading

Chapter 7 Cults


Branch Davidians—From Alternative Religion to Cult

Charles Manson and the Family

Degradation Rituals—The Process of Cult Initiation

The Leader and the Message

Heaven’s Gate

Discussion—What Cults Really Are

References and Further Reading

Chapter 8 Emergent Religion

Revival and Emergence


Beliefs and History

Margot Adler


Ethnographic Testimonies—Original Research

New Evangelicalism


The Differences

References and Further Reading

Chapter 9 Globalization

Haré Krishna—Indian Religion Arrives in the US


Roman Catholicism

Global Clashes—Russia


Co-Discussion—Catholic Fundamentalism in Poland by Agnieszka Koscianska

Co-Discussion—"I’m Muslim by God’s Grace; I’m Gay by God’s Grace”: Reconciling a Queer Muslim Identity in America by Mahruq Khan

Types of Religious Experience

References and Further Reading

Chapter 10 Religion Beyond Religion

Heavy Metal Hierophany

On the Road—A Journey of Discovery

Metal and Goths—Contrasts



Jesus, CEO

Co-Discussion—God the Economist? Economics and Religion in an Inter-Faith Business Organization by Sadie Pendaz

References and Further Reading


Good overview, would be slightly difficult for students who are not only studying sociology.

Mr Lewis Simpson
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of HE & FE
March 13, 2015

This text is far more insightful than texts that just go into various religions and describe the practices and rituals associated with them.

Linda Scola
Sociology, Bethune Cookman College
September 13, 2013

Excellent book which gives a detailed over view of religion. Easy too read with interesting facts.

Miss Sharron Stillyards
health and social care, northlindsey college
July 30, 2013

A very readable text, students felt it was easy to understand and clearly indexed.

Mrs Sunray Heap
General Education , Cardiff and Vale College
March 14, 2013

Nice overview, good body of general theory and balance with substantive discussion of religion.

Professor Ryan J LeCount
Sociology Anthropology Dept, Purdue University
January 28, 2010

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