Understanding the role of religion in early British sociology, as well as its fate in later sociology, requires a variety of perspectives: one is intellectual and concerns the various forms that the topic of religion took for British sociology. Another is organisational and ecological. British sociology as embodied in the Sociological Society was a part of a vast array of organisations that were part of a massive movement of social reform, international in scope, and (...) motivated largely by the newly ‘social’ Christianity of the late Victorian era. As a kind of public discourse, sociology was part of what Maurice Cowling called the ‘Public Doctrine’ replacing religion. As Cowling demonstrates for British intellectual life as a whole, the withdrawing roar of the sea of faith, as Matthew Arnold put it, was in the ears of generations of British academics and thinkers, and especially in those who used the term ‘sociology’ or referred to sociological thinkers, such as Comte, or their precursors. (shrink)
For the first time in book format, the sociology or grace (or enchantment) is explained and explored in some detail. Grace is a central concept of theology, while the term also has a wide range of meanings in many fields. The results of this study are fascinating. The author's writings on this topic take the reader on an intriguing journey which traverses subjects ranging from theology, through the history of art, archaeology and mythology to anthropology. As such, this volume (...) will interest academics across a wide range of disciplines apart from sociology. (shrink)
In this paper I present a model of analysis of religion and science as forms of social construction of knowledge from the perspective of postmodern sociology. Numerous works have been recently published on the possible relations between religion and science. Most authors address this relationship from the perspectives of theology, philosophy, or selected disciplines of natural sciences . My goal is to add to that discussion a voice from the perspective of social sciences, specifically postmodern sociology. (...) The model I propose brings the religion‐science conversation down to earth, that is, to the level of people who “live” religion and science on a daily basis. The theoretical frame‐work for my analysis of religion and science and of their relationship is constructed on the basis of selected works of leading postmodern sociologists Zygmunt Bauman, Anthony Giddens, and Piotr Sztompka. I begin with a brief summary of the basic ontological and methodological presuppositions of the postmodern approach to reality. This summary is followed by a clarification of meanings of certain concepts that are crucial for the understanding of my model. Then, I present the model of analysis of religion and science and, finally, make some suggestions for sociology of religion and sociology of science that might open new opportunities and challenges for future research of the interface between religion and science in the postmodern culture. (shrink)
This collection of 13 specially commissioned essays expands a new intellectual terrain for sociology: virtue ethics. Using a variety of religious perspectives, of Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Quakerism, with considerations of Islam and the New Age, this engaged and topical collection deals with properties of virtue in relation to the person, celibacy, hope, the apocalypse, mourning, and moral ambiguity. It also treats the concept of virtue in response to MacIntyre, Bauman, Weber, Durkheim, and Giddens. It seeks to move sociology (...) past disabling effects of postmodernity. (shrink)
Many sociologists have drawn attention to the puzzling absence of a detailed discussion of religion in Elias’s investigation of the European civilizing process. Elias did not develop a sociology of religion, but he did not overlook the importance of beliefs in the ‘spirit world’ in the history of human societies. In his writings such convictions were described as fantasy images that could be contrasted with ‘reality-congruent’ knowledge claims. Elias placed fantasy–reality balances, whether religious or secular, at the (...) centre of the analysis of how societies have dealt with collective fears that arise in response to largely uncontrolled conditions. He located religious orientations within a broader framework of analysis regarding fantasy–reality balances in the first human groups and in current state-organized societies. Elias stressed how balances changed in ‘civilized’ societies with the rise of the natural sciences. But his writings emphasized the continuing influence of fantasy images in technologically sophisticated societies, particularly in the context of national and international power struggles. His analysis of how fantasy images acquired considerable influence under conditions of fear is important for studies of social responses to global challenges including climate change. Connections with Weber’s sociology of religion point the way to theoretically informed empirical research on balances between fantasy and reality-congruence in a tumultuous and unpredictable era. (shrink)
A review essay of three recent publications that focus in different ways on the evolutionary basis of religion. Asma focuses on the ways in which “religion” energizes the emotional needs of humans. Torrey pays close attention to the evolutionary stages of brain development that are necessary for the emergence of religious concepts and the attitudes that accompany them. Finally, Turner et al. develop a complex theory of different types of selection that they regard as necessary in order to (...) account for the institutionalization of religion: they think that biological natural selection, even though building human capacities, is insufficient to explain the sociological facts about religion. (shrink)
This book is based on the Stewart Lectures given at Princeton in 1971. It argues the importance and the legitimacy of a scientific study of religion, and proposes Smart’s strategy for conducting such an enterprise. In brief, Smart wishes to look at religion as an aspect of human existence, to emphasize its intertraditional pluralism and intra-traditional complexity, to admit its lack of clear boundaries vis-à-vis other phenomena, and to draw on a variety of methods both to describe and (...) to explain it. This approach is scientific and broadly phenomenological, but in a way which is appropriate to the subject and which does not seek to reduce it to something else. Hence, Smart seeks to avoid both a theological commitment to the actuality of the object of belief, and the methodological atheism and projectionism of a Peter Berger. Against the former, which also typifies the apologetic preoccupation of much philosophy of religion, Smart proposes to bracket the existence of the object, while respecting the reality it manifests in the life of religious people. Against the latter, Smart prefers a stance of methodological neutralism or agnosticism. Thus, he criticizes Berger’s implicit theory of independent access to the "true" universe, and commends a context-dependent theory of rationality in religion. (shrink)
This concluding comment draws upon the common themes articulated by the preceding contributors about how Sociology of Religion and Religious Studies can influence each other, as well as considering some of the obstacles to that. It concludes with some intellectual suggestions for furthering some of our common interests.
Ambitiously undertaking to develop a strategy for making the study of religion "scientific," Ninian Smart tackles a set of interrelated issues that bear importantly on the status of religion as an academic discipline. He draws a clear distinction between studying religion and "doing theology," and considers how phenomenological method may be used in investigating objects of religious attitudes without presupposing the existence of God or gods. He goes on to criticize projectionist theories of religion and theories (...) of rationality in both religion and anthropology. On this basis he builds a theory of religious dynamics which gives religious ideas and entities an autonomous place in the sociology of knowledge. His overall purpose is thus "to indicate ways forward in the study of religion which free it from being crypto-apologetics or elevating poetry." Originally published in 1973. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905. (shrink)
The main goal of the second issue of the Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion, devoted entirely to religion and politics, is precisely to question the sense of a reconstruction of the mutual and simultaneous relations between these two spheres of social life. What does this process mean and where is it taking us?
These essays examine how some perennial problems in philosophy and religion are significant for understanding contemporary life. Issues discussed include: capitalism; public philosophy; man-made mass death; psychoanalysis; feminism; fundamentalism; and the desire to be happy.
The generic notion of “religion” and its conceptual demarcation from “the secular” have been critically examined by a number of scholars from the “critical religion” perspective. The interrogation of the term “religion,” and other related terms, questions modern formations of knowledge and power in general. This paper constitutes part of the project which examines norms and imperatives which govern sociological discourse on religion. Max Weber and Emile Durkheim are particularly significant figures in sociology of (...) class='Hi'>religion. The aim of this paper is to historicize the category “religion” employed by Weber and Durkheim, in the specific social context of Germany and France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of the ideological foundation of sociological theories of religion. (shrink)
Feminist sociologists claim that while feminist insights have been incorporated in sociological paradigms and women sociologists have been well-integrated into academia, sociological frameworks have not been transformed, a process known as the missing feminist revolution. Yet, few have examined how the missing feminist revolution operates in specific subdisciplines and the mechanisms that sustain it. This article undertakes these tasks by analyzing religion and gender scholarship published in six sociology journals over the past 32 years. We find evidence of (...) partial integration and continued marginalization. However, we also document disparate networks of interlocutors that operate in two distinct intellectual fields—religion and gender. We argue that this bifurcation partially explains the missing feminist revolution and that insularity of feminist conversations likely contributes to this process. Our findings shed light on obstacles to transforming mainstream disciplines. (shrink)
Religion and Dialectics carries to a new level, the critical dialogue between religious belief, dialectical thinking, and socialist practice, which has given birth, among other things, to the theology of liberation and to a new Marxist sociology of religion.
This topical collection of eleven commissioned essays by well-established contributors from sociology, religious studies and theology, is one of the first treatments of the relationship between postmodernity and religion from a sociological perspective. The essays cover a diversity of interests, but treat postmodernity in terms of its implications for the self, the New Age and theology, particularly Catholicism and Judaism. Two of the essays are original appraisals of two important French writers on religion: Jean-Luc Marion and Daniele (...) Hervieu-Leger. (shrink)
Leading philosopher of religion D. Z. Phillips argues that intellectuals need not see their task as being for or against religion, but as one of understanding it. What stands in the way of this task are certain methodological assumptions about what enquiry into religion must be. Beginning with Bernard Williams on Greek gods, Phillips goes on to examine these assumptions in the work of Hume, Feuerbach, Marx, Frazer, Tylor, Marett, Freud, Durkheim, Le;vy-Bruhl, Berger and Winch. The result (...) exposes confusion, but also gives logical space to religious belief without advocating personal acceptance of that belief, and shows how the academic study of religion may return to the contemplative task of doing conceptual justice to the world. Religion and the Hermeneutics of Contemplation extends in important ways D. Z. Phillips' seminal 1976 book Religion Without Explanation. It will be of interest to scholars and students of philosophy, anthropology, sociology and theology. (shrink)
This work consists of a series of articles which are general and mainly historical in nature. They trace, in more or less detailed fashion, the main patterns of thought in the great world religions in this century, especially in relation to science and economic systems. This is more an historical and sociological study than a philosophical one, and its value is primarily a peripheral one for the student of religious thought and practice. Of particular interest, mainly due to its esoteric (...) attraction, is an article on he position of the Orthodox Church in Soviet Russia, which is a model of Marxist interpretation of religion and its influence on society. In summary, more an interesting general history than an intensive study.—K. O. (shrink)
Political philosophy has difficulties to cope with the complexity and variety of state-religions relations. ‘Strict separationism’ is still the preferred option amongst liberals, deliberative and republican democrats, socialist and feminists. In this article, I develop a complex typology based on comparative history and sociology of religions. I summarize my reasons why institutional pluralist models like plural establishment or non-constitutional pluralism are attractive not only for religious minorities but for religiously deeply diverse societies in general. Most attention is paid defending (...) associative democracy, the most flexible and open variety of institutional pluralism, against realist objections that group representation is incompatible with liberal democracy, that it leads to stigmatization and bureaucratization, that it strengthens undemocratic leaders, that it leads to an ossification of the status quo, and, most importantly, that it is inherently divisive undermining social cohesion and political unity. In my refutation of these objections I try to show that it helps to integrate minority religions into liberal democratic policies compatible with reasonable pluralism and to prevent religious and political fundamentalism. (shrink)
This collection of papers makes a step towards increased dialogue among philosophical liberals and their theological, sociological and legal critics. The text should be significant for those concerned with the place of religion within a liberal society.
Under the influence of the evangelical movement in the 18th and early 19th centuries education, in one form or another, was brought to a vast number of people in England and Wales. Originally published in 1969, it is this phenomenon that forms the subject of Dr McLeish’s book. The two central figures are Griffith Jones and Hannah More and the movements are seen almost entirely through their work. Dr McLeish examines the nature and aims of the schools which were established; (...) their economics and organisation; their progress and achievement; the social background in which they flourished. In the second part of his book Dr McLeish attempts a bold synthesis. He analyses these data in light of four essentially modern social theories – Marxist dialectics, the functionalist anthropology of Malinowski, Freudian psychoanalysis, and the sociology of Talcott Parsons. The author does not pretend to provide all the answers. What he suggests is a way of looking at history that is open-minded and eclectic and vitalizing in the perspectives which it offers. (shrink)
This article discusses and argues for a ‘new’ and inclusive umbrella concept for varieties of experiences that have been called, inter alia, religious, spiritual, existential, paranormal, extraordinary or inexplicable. The umbrella concept to be explored is seen as a means of capturing one kind of ‘lived religion’ in contemporary society and simultaneously expanding the field of the sociology of religion. The discussion is theoretical and anchored in contemporary theories and traditions in sociology of religion, but (...) it is also of pragmatical, methodological, empirical, and ethical concern. The main concepts that are currently in use and considered as offering a possible umbrella term for this cluster of often overlapping experiences, which are difficult to clearly define and distinguish, are summarized, and the main concepts, such as religious, spiritual and paranormal experiences, are elaborated in more detail. Thereafter follows a definition and in-depth discussion of the suggested concept of mystical experiences. In conclusion, I argue that William James’s concept of mystical experiences, with an upgraded and inclusive understanding considering religious, cultural and societal change, has the potential to work on etic, interdisciplinary and emic levels, without offending the experiencers or violating their interpretations and the meaning-making of their experiences. (shrink)
How subject and object relate is perceived differently. This has been identified and discussed by philosophers. Hegel built on Plato’s notion that true reality only exists in ideas and is, therefore, objectively true. Hegel argued that the world we encounter is the objectification of the divine mind. Empiricists argue that material things can be engaged through the senses and are, therefore, real. But how do we know that spiritual things are real since they cannot be engaged through the senses? Feuerbach (...) reacted against the Enlightenment thoughts of his time by postulating that god is not real since it is a projection of human qualities. Feuerbach inverted Hegel’s theory by stating that the divine is an abstraction and reification of human thought. With this theory, Feuerbach stated that religion is human-made and redundant. Feuerbach’s theory of the non-existence of god was created during the 19th century and corresponds with post-theism. De Botton also denies the existence of god, but declared that religion has many valuable functions for society. Feuerbach, from a philosophical and De Botton, from a sociological perspective, both deny the existence of god, but differ on the role religion play in society. Feuerbach’s theories proves to have relevance to current studies of religion.Contribution: This contribution investigates the position of Ludwig Feuerbach and tries to indicate the influence his ideas had on current post-theistic theories, such as that by Allan de Botton. (shrink)
"What is secularism? Is it possible to separate religion from politics? This critical volume examines the dynamic relationship between the state and religion in India and Europe. It first conceptualizes the nature and challenges of secularism in the wake of radical changes in post-9/11 world politics. Second, in assessing the scope and future of secularism in the actual contexts of its emergence and practice, it redraws the boundaries and definitions of the institutional pillars of the state - judiciary, (...) legislature, and executive - and their interactions with religion across democracies in South Asia and Europe. Including wide-ranging essays by leading scholars, the book stimulates renewed debate on secularism, democracy, identity and multiculturalism in the contemporary world. It will prove invaluable to scholars and students of political science, sociology, philosophy, history, human rights, and legal theory, as well as those concerned with religion and state." from back cover. (shrink)
Some Victorian evolutionary thinkers, such as James Frazer, theorised that humanity’s mental stages are characterised by magic, followed by religion, culminating in science. Put another way, the notion of humanity’s encounter with the sacred in society will eventually retreat, giving way to secular conditions, and that science and rationality would triumph as a more persuasive means of satisfying human needs. In this first foray in explorations on spirituality and religion, this article asks what the fundamental differences between (...) class='Hi'>religion and spirituality are, and will examine the aspects of spirituality that are freely accessible and freely chosen and that are uneasy with religion, by looking at some of the constructed borders that result in religion becoming narrow, rigid, prescriptive and less attractive. The article then examines how the phenomenon of spirituality is creating new paradigms of consciousness. It draws on the literature on religion, spirituality, sociology and anthropology, and concludes that religion will not go away despite the efforts of secularisation. (shrink)
The thrust of this paper is to take a reflection on Nigerian situation of religion and African identity. This systematic and functional position has become necessary in view of rich and deep insight into social functions of religion in building African cultural identity in a globalized world. This exploratory survey makes use of literary, sociological and historical methods and analyzed through culture centred approach. The result shows that religion has rich social functions and if fully tapped will (...) build a cohesive society and progressive African identity based on African cultural values. This will be achieved through collaborative effort of all sundry. (shrink)
Contemporary Europe is facing this chal- lenge when redefining its own identity and socializing institutions. This paper focuses on how current discus- sions on the adequacy of a reference to Judeo- Christian heritage in the new European Constitution or on the teaching of religions at schools show the resilience of old-age notions and stereotypes with respect to cultural diversity. In order to explain this resilience, the paper explores how hierarchical percep- tions of otherness (mainly of Muslims) are flourishing within a (...) dichotomized system of representing other- ness. This system is analyzed from the neo- Durkeimian perspective of cultural sociology and placed in connection with the spiritual leadership of fundamentalist conservatism after the fall of the Berlin Wall and with the old trend of Orientalism underlying pervading dominant Western discourses. (shrink)
This article explores the relationship between theology and sociology on two levels. The first is in terms of the general disciplinary closure that has marked much of their coexistence, despite the many topics on which they potentially meet. The second level is more specific and concerns the tension in Britain between religious sociology, in which sociology is put to serve faith, and the secular sociology of religion, where religion is studied scientifically. This tension has (...) been addressed before with respect to the history of sociology in France and the United States, but the British case, hitherto relatively unknown, illustrates the potential there was for a more fruitful relationship between sociology and theology in Britain that went undeveloped as the secular sociology of religion eventually replaced early religious sociology. The existence of religious sociology has been written out of the history of the discipline in Britain, such that when theology and sociology began a more serious engagement in the 1970s in Britain and elsewhere, particularly as biblical studies discovered sociology and as theologians and sociologists first met jointly, this earlier dialogue was entirely overlooked. (shrink)
This volume has a misleading title: one might think that the material in this long work is by the great Indian spiritual leader. But it is not. Rather it is a collection of essays by A. R. Wadia, M.P., and it is only the first essay in the tome which is about Gandhi. Wadia is obviously some kind of Renaissance man, an interpreter of all knowledge--philosophical and religious, western and eastern--to the Indian mind. In one volume can be found Wadia (...) on "Pragmatic Idealism," "Philosophy and Religion," "Science and Philosophy," "Buddha as a Revolutionary Force in Indian Culture," "The Psychological Background of Politics and Sociology," "The Problem of Population in India," and there is lots more.--W. A. J. (shrink)