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Weber-Foucault-Nietzsche: Uncertain Legacies For The Sociology Of Religion

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Chapter Summary

The writings of Max Weber have been extremely influential on the sociology of religion. This chapter performs a strategic juxtaposition of the writings of Weber, Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche. The first part of the chapter suggests that contemporary sociologists of religion are heirs to a critique of disenchanted modernity that we find forcefully elaborated in the writings of Weber, Foucault and Nietzsche. It argues that the critique of disenchanted modernity has bequeathed a deformed and distorted conception of reason on the one hand and of religion on the other. The second part argues that despite the fact that contemporary sociologists of religion write from within the parameters set by this critique they typically misunderstand its consequences - they employ value-saturated terms such as sect but treat them as if they were natural facts, a point that can most effectively be brought to the fore via an analysis of sociological method.

Keywords: Friedrich Nietzsche; Max Weber; Michel Foucault; sect; sociology of religion



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