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4-24 - Religion Overview The Sociology of Religion...

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Unformatted text preview: Religion Overview The Sociology of Religion Sociological Perspectives on Religion Religion in the U.S. Globalization and Religion The Sociology of Religion Sociologists are NOT interested in truth of religious teachings Seek to understand relationship between religion and society How are religious institutions organized? How does religion shape beliefs, values, and behavior? How does religion relate to the larger society in which it is embedded? The Sociology of Religion Religion as a Social Institution Religion is an important agent of socialization Teaches values and norms Provides social solidarity Yet the practice and organization of religion takes many forms (small and independent; large and bureaucratic) Influence stratification, social change, etc. Religion: A cultural system of shared beliefs and rituals The Sociology of Religion 3 Common Elements of Religion Beliefs: Shared ideas that translate into values and norms Rituals: Special behavioral practices and activities Moral community: A social group organized around shared beliefs and rituals that provide a sense of meaning Sociological Perspectives on Religion Durkheim: A Functionalist Perspective Religion is a system of beliefs relative to the "sacred" and "profane" Sacred: Elements of world that inspire awe, respect, and fear People participate in the sacred through rituals These understandings provide essential social "glue" Profane: The ordinary and commonplace. Sociological Perspectives on Religion Marx: A Conflict Perspective Religion the "opium of the people" Impedes social change and class conflict Encourages focus on otherworldly concerns; diverts attention from inequality and exploitation Existing social arrangements represent will of God Legitimates social inequalities Sociological Perspectives on Religion Weber: Religion and Social Change Pointed to connection between religion and social change Protestant Ethic: Viewed rise of Protestantism as central to development of Western capitalism Material success sign of divine favor Encouraged hard work, thrift, and investment Religion in the U.S. Trends in Religious Belief & Affiliation Compared to other industrialized countries, U.S. a very religious nation More than half of Americans claim "strong belief in God" Overwhelming majority claim belief in God and that they pray regularly Over 80% report believing in an afterlife Can't underestimate power in American politics Religion in the U.S. Trends in Religious Belief & Affiliation Americans are predominately Protestant and Catholic Christians Over half identify as Protestants Baptists largest denomination (16%) About one quarter identify Catholics Approx. 13% identify as members of other religious groups Religion in the U.S. Trends in Religious Belief & Affiliation Yet standard measures of "religiosity" have all been in decline since 1950s Belief in God, religious memberships, attendance at religious services Currently, about 9% of Americans claim no religious affiliation Increasing numbers claiming no religion Outlook of the U.S. adult population: Religious or Secular? American Religious Identification Survey, 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, 2001 Outlook and Age U.S. Adults: Religious or Secular? Religion in the U.S. Secularization or Religious Revival? U.S. growing more secular in many ways "Separation of Church and State" fundamental tenet of American public institutions Examples of secularization can be seen throughout culture At same time have witnessed resurgence of Evangelicalism (i.e., "born again") Growing in numbers and political influence Globalization and Religion Rise of Religious Nationalism and Fundamentalism Among most important current global trends Globalization brings with it many uncertainties and instability In such a context strong religious convictions have great appeal Can see evidence of this dynamic in many of the conflicts around the globe today ...
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