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The Sociology of Religion
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The Sociology of Religion
A Substantive and Transdisciplinary Approach



June 2008 | 464 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Using a lively narrative, The Sociology of Religion is an insightful text that investigates the facts of religion in all its great diversity, including its practices and beliefs, and then analyzes 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 text.

Organized around essential topics and real-life issues, this unique text examines religion both as an object of sociological analysis as well as a device for seeking personal meaning in life. The book provides sociological perspectives on religion while introducing students to relevant research from interdisciplinary scholarship. Sidebar features and photographs of religious figures bring the text to life for readers.


Key Features

  • Uses substantive and truly contemporary real-life religious issues of current interest to engage the reader in a way few other texts do
  • Combines 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 presented
  • Features discussions of emergent religions, consumerism, and the link between religion, sports, and other forms of popular culture
  • Draws upon interdisciplinary literature, helping students appreciate the contributions of other disciplines while primarily developing an understanding of the sociology of religion


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Instructor Resources on CD contain 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.–5:00 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

 
Charisma

 
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

 
Polytheism

 
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

 
Progressivism

 
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

 
References

 
 
Chapter 3 Superstition and the Supernatural
Introduction

 
Sparta and Athens

 
The Virgin Mary in a Small German Village

 
Witches and the Devil in Salem

 
Discussion

 
References

 
 
Chapter 4 Alternative Religion
Introduction

 
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

 
Cuba

 
Haiti

 
Revolution—The Case of Native-American Resistance

 
References and Further Reading

 
 
Chapter 5 Religious Intolerance and Violence
Introduction

 
Exclusive Monotheism

 
Icons—Intolerance of Religious Imagery

 
The Cathars—Intolerance of Heresy

 
Discussion

 
Violence and Intolerance in Modern Times

 
Fundamentalism

 
Islam

 
Women’s Fundamentalism in the Middle East

 
Christianity

 
Fundamentalism in the US—The Christian Right

 
Christian Violence

 
Hinduism

 
Discussion

 
Authoritarianism

 
Conclusions

 
References

 
 
Chapter 6 Evil
Sociological Relevance

 
Evil Around the World

 
Polynesia

 
Vedism

 
China and Japan

 
Native America

 
The Persians

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

 
References and Further Reading

 
 
Chapter 7 Cults
Introduction

 
Millerites

 
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
Introduction

 
Revival and Emergence

 
Neopaganism

 
Beliefs and History

 
Margot Adler

 
Starhawk

 
Ethnographic Testimonies—Original Research

 
New Evangelicalism

 
Comparisons

 
The Differences

 
References and Further Reading

 
 
Chapter 9 Globalization
Introduction

 
Haré Krishna—Indian Religion Arrives in the US

 
Pentecostalism

 
Roman Catholicism

 
Global Clashes—Russia

 
Poland

 
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
Introduction

 
Heavy Metal Hierophany

 
On the Road—A Journey of Discovery

 
Metal and Goths—Contrasts

 
Sports

 
Branding

 
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
Key features

The goal of this book is to engage students with interesting material, and not just convey accurate information or discipline-defining concepts. 

Feature:

The inductive and substantive approach takes actual examples, constructed using scholarship from sociology and related disciplines, and presents them chapter by chapter, much as a field researcher pursues empirical knowledge about real-life developments in religion.

Benefit:

Actively engages students in a learning process, in the same way a scholar actively pursues knowledge in the field and then interprets findings through conceptual frameworks.

Feature:

Each chapter presents relevant concepts to interpret religious developments, much as a researcher interprets their findings.


Benefit:

This book will teach students how to interpret established empirical knowledge.

Feature:

This book is interdisciplinary while maintaining a focus on sociology, teaching students sociological perspectives on religion while drawing on relevant scholarship in other disciplines.

Benefit:

This focused yet interdisciplinary perspective helps students contextualize religious experience across different cultures and disciplines, making the book pedagogically interesting and relevant to their daily lives.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 - Theory

Chapter 5 - Religious Intolerance and Aggression


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