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Department/School

Sociology and Anthropology

Abstract/Excerpt

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.

Document Type

Chapter

Book Title

Frontiers of Global Sociology: Research Perspectives for the 21st Century

Editors

Markus S. Schultz

Publisher

ISA Research

Place of Publication

Berlin, Germany

Publication Date

2018

Pages

204-212

ISBN

978-3-746744-54-4

Keywords

sociology, religion, theory, narrative, moral voice

Disciplines

Sociology | Sociology of Religion | Theory, Knowledge and Science

Comments

The link is to a page where one can download the entire volume without charge. I have attached a PDF of my own chapter, as I own the copyright.

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Publisher's version

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Six Narratives in Search of a Future: Current ‘Theory’ in the Sociology of Religion

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