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Sacred place and sacred power: Conceptual boundaries and the marginalization of religious practices

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Chapter Summary

In order to have a more thorough and nuanced understanding of religion and other cultural elements under the conditions of globalization, this chapter re-examines our concept of religion. To the extent that powerful organizations have controlled the boundaries of what would be accepted as real religion in modern societies, the effect has been the marginalization of many people’s religious practices. Sociology uses concepts, such as “religion”, “ritual”, “sacred”, “magic”, and “supernatural”, that frame our discourse and shape our images of what it is that we are studying. Each concept has a genealogy, traceable back to historical periods in which definitional boundaries were hotly disputed. This chapter examines one such historically contested boundary-the concept of “the sacred” and where it is located-in order to illustrate how fruitful it might be to rethink our concepts and images of religion and religious behavior.

Keywords: marginalization; religious behavior; sacred power; sociology



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