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Sociology and Anthropology
Six stories about religion’s future underpin the last century of sociological writing. In those stories, religion is either vanishing or growing stronger, individualizing or creating local communities, shaped by markets, or going global. Each of these six narratives presents a different view of religion and calls on different data to interpret religions’ current social significance. The stories constitute semi-conscious frames that structure sociologists' explanations.
Yet they leave out much of religious life -- including much of religions' moral critique of the status quo. None of the narratives engages social teachings as a core part of religious life. None of them emphasizes the ability of religions to shape social life in intentional ways. Instead, religions are seen as irrelevant, as obstructionist, as inward, or as self-interested. There is no place for Selma, for Cape Town, or for Gdansk i.e., for religiously driven social liberation.
This shapes more than just sociological thinking; it also shapes public perceptions of religion and thus affects social policy. Sociologists of religion need to pay attention to what our stories do not let us, and the public,see.
Frontiers of Global Sociology: Research Perspectives for the 21st Century
Markus S. Schultz
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sociology, religion, theory, narrative, moral voice
Sociology | Sociology of Religion | Theory, Knowledge and Science
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