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The Theoretical Trajectory

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the functionalist theoretical perspective as developed by Talcott Parsons that dominated sociological theory in the middle of the twentieth century continued on the way social actions are governed by shared values and norms. The concept of "civil religion" in the sociology of religion is similar to Parsons's theoretical perspective focus on the reinforcement of shared values that support the dominant institutional patterns of American society. It focuses the emergence of a systematic conflict theory perspective, the potential of such a perspective in the sociology of religion can be seen in the contrast between sectarian religious groups appealed to the lower and working class segments of society and mainstream churches. Religious pluralism is clearly expressed in the great variety of religious organizations in the society. Finally it focuses the rational choice theoretical perspective as applied by Rodney Stark and others to individuals' religious commitment and to religious organizations.

Keywords: mainstream churches; religious organizations; Rodney Stark; Talcott Parsons; theoretical trajectory



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