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7. The Sociology of Religion

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the sociology of religion in the context of a globalizing world. Social scientists recognize now that the study of religion extends beyond personal beliefs and private practices. The chapter begins with a brief review of the major methodological and theoretical tools passed on by Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx which remain relevant. A product of the Enlightenment, secularization viewed religious adherence as a hallmark of the unenlightened, and predicted its eventual demise. Religious fundamentalism remains a fact in all major religions. Sociology of religion seeks to discover and explain the patterns of social living associated with religion in its diverse forms. Sociologists of religion bring to the table a discipline with methods and theories that seem now more mature and balanced than was possible a century ago.

Keywords: Emile Durkheim; Karl Marx; Max Weber; secularization theory; sociology of religion



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