Sociology of Religion: A Reader

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-09-20
  • Publisher: Routledge

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For undergraduate/graduate courses in the Sociology of Religion in departments of Sociology; and for courses such as Religious Perspectives on Social Issues in departments of Theology.   A reader that seeks to explore the relationship between the structure and culture of religion and various elements of social life in the U.S.   Sociology of Religion: A Reader, 2e is ideal as either a standalone reader or supplement to the text written by the same author team, Why Religion Matters.  Based on both classic and contemporary research in the sociology of religion, this reader highlights a variety of research methods and theoretical approaches. It explores the ways in which religious values, beliefs and practices shape the world outsideof church, synagogue, or mosque walls while simultaneously being shaped bythe non-religious forces operating in that world.

Author Biography

Susanne C. Monahan is Associate Professor and former chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Montana State University.  She received a Ph.D. and A.M. in Sociology from Stanford University, and a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology and Economics from Swarthmore College.  Her research focuses on complex organizations, including work on American congregations and clergy.  She is co-editor, along with William Mirola and Michael Emerson, of Sociology of Religion: A Reader, and has published articles and reviews in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Review of Religious Research, Sociology of Religion, Theoretical Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of the American Academy of Religion and Child Development


William A. Mirola is Professor of Sociology and former chair of the Department of History and Social Science at Marian College in Indianapolis, IN.  His teaching and research interests focus on the sociology of religion, social class, and social movements and change.  In 2009, he co-edited (with Sean McCloud), Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics.  He is co-editor (with Susanne Monahan and Michael Emerson) of Sociology of Religion: A Reader.  He has published articles in Sociology of Religion, Social Problems, and Social Science History, principally addressing the intersections of religion and social class as well as religious dynamics in the American labor movement, past and present. 


Michael O. Emerson is the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Rice University.  In addition to many articles on the topic of religion, he is the author of several books, including Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford University Press) and People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States (Princeton University Press). 


Table of Contents








Section I:  Definitions of Religion

Section II:  Religious Belief, Ritual and Experience

Section III:  Immigration, Race and Religion

Section IV:  Gender and Religion

Section V:  Social Class and Religion

Section VI:  Sexual Identity and religion

Section VII:  The Secularization Debate

Section VIII:  Religious Authority and Institutions

Section IX:  New Religious Movements

Section X:  Religion, Politics and Social Change

Section XI:  Religious Violence

Section XII:  Religion in a Globalized World




* indicates the reading is new to this edition


Section I:  Definitions of Religion


Emile Durkheim:  Subject of the Study: Religious Sociology and the Theory of Knowledge p. 1-6


Peter Berger:  The Sacred Canopy p. 7-12


Karl Marx:  From Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion p. 13-14


Brian J. Zinnbauer, et.al.:  Religion and Spirituality:  Unfuzzying the Fuzzy* p. 15-20



Section II:  Religious Belief, Ritual and Experience


Emile Durkheim:  The Principal Totemic Beliefs: The Toten as Name and as Emblem * p. 21-23


Lynn Davidman and Arthur Greil:  Characters in Search of a Script: The Exit Narratives of Formerly Ultra-Orthodox Jews* p. 24-35


Caitlin Killian:  From a Community of Believers to an Islam of the Heart: ‘Conspicuous’ Symbols, Muslim Practices, and the Privatization of Religion in France* p. 36-44



Section III:  Immigration, Race and Religion


Wendy Cadge and Elaine Howard Ecklund:  Immigration and Religion: Current Research and Future Directions* p. 45-58


Carolyn Chen:  Religious Varieties of Experience: A Comparison Between a Taiwanese Immigrant Buddhist Temple and an Evangelical Christian Church* p. 59-76


Timothy Nelson:  Sacrifice of Praise: Emotion and Collective Participation in an African-American Worship Service p. 77-84


Gerardo Marti:  Affinity, Identity and Transcendence: The Experience of Religion Racial Integration in Diverse Congregations* p. 85-95



Section IV:  Gender and Religion


Linda Woodhead:  Gendering Secularization Theory* p. 96-100


Jeri Altneu Sechzer:  “Islam and Woman: Where Tradition Meets Modernity”* p. 101-108


Wendy Griffin:  The Embodied Goddess p. 109-117


Ruth Wallace:  The Social Construction of a New Leadership Role: Catholic Women Pastors  p. 118-124



Section V:  Social Class and Religion


Christian Smith and Robert Faris:  Socioeconomic Inequality in the American Religious System* p. 125-134


Timothy Nelson:  At Ease With Our Own Kind:  Worship Practices and Class Segregation in American Religion* p. 135-146


Philip Schwadel:  Poor Teenagers’ Religion* p. 147-165


Lisa Keister:  Upward Wealth Mobility: Exploring the Roman Catholic Advantage* p. 166-184



Section VI:  Sexual Identity and Religion


 James Hunter:  Culture Wars: The Challenge of Homosexuality p. 185-187


Laura Olson and Wendy Cadge:  Talking About Homosexuality: The Views of Mainline Protestant Clergy* p. 188-202


Andrew Yip: Daring to Differ: Gay and Lesbian Catholic’s Official Assessment of Official Catholic Positions on Sexuality p. 203-208


Krista McQueeney:  We Are God’s Children, Y’all* p. 209-228



Section VII:  The Secularization Debate


Bryan Wilson:  Secularization and Its Discontents pg. 229-237


Roger Finke:  An Unsecular America pg. 238-249


Mark Chavez:  Secularization as Declining Religious Authority* p. 250-264


N. J. Demerath:  Secularization and Sacrilization: Deconstructed and Reconstructed* p. 265-284



Section VIII:  Religious Authority and Institutions


Max Weber:  Selections from Sociological Writings* p. 285-287


Fenggang Yang and Helen Rose Ebaugh:  Transformation in New Immigrant Religions:  Congregationalism* p. 288-297


Mark Chaves:  All Creatures Great and Small: Megachurches in Context* p. 298-307



Section IX:  New Religious Movements


Paul Olson:  Public Perceptions of ‘Cults’ and ‘New Religious Movements’* p. 308-312


James Tabor: Apocalypse at Waco p. 313-318


Angela Coco and Ian Woodward:  Discourses of Authenticity Within a Pagan Community:  The Emergence of the ‘Fluffy Bunny’ Sanction* p. 319-326


Marybeth Ayella:  ’They Must Be Crazy’:  Some of the Difficulties in Researching ‘Cults’* p. 327-337



Section X:  Religion, Politics and Social Change


Christian Smith:  Correcting a Curious Neglect, or Bringing Religion Back In* p. 338-345


Mary Patillo-McCoy:  Church Culture as a Strategy for Action* p. 346-353


Clyde Wilcox and Rachel Goldberg:  Public Opinion on Church-State Issues in a Changing Environment* p. 354-361


D. Michael Lindsay:  Evangelicals in the Power Elite: Elite Cohesion Advancing a Movement* p. 362-373



Section XI:  Religious Violence


Thomas J. Badey:  The Role of Religion in International Terrorism* p. 374-377


Jonathan Fine:  What Motivates Terror?  Contrasting Secular and Religious Terrorism* p. 378-387


Mark Juergensmeyer:  Is Religion the Problem?* p. 388-396


James K. Wellman, Jr. and Tokuno Kyoko:  Is Religious Violence Inevitable?* p. 397-402


Sharon Erickson Nepstad:  Religion, Violence and Peacemaking* p. 403-408



Section XII:  Religion in a Globalized World


Peggy Levitt:  Redefining the Boundaries of Belonging:  The Institutional Character of Transnational Religious Life* p. 409-419


Thomas Csordas:  Global Religion and the Re-Enchantment of the World* p. 420-433


Robert Wuthnow and Stephen Offutt:  Transnational Religious Connections* p. 434-448


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