The aim of this course is to understand more
fully, and from a sociological perspective, the place of religion in
human societies. The
empirical material will be drawn from many different examples, both
Christian and other, and from many different parts of the modern
From a conceptual point of view, the course
will challenge the notion that modernization necessarily implies
secularization. In so
doing it will raise important theoretical issues best expressed as a
question: are the theoretical frameworks currently in use in the
sociology of religion up to the task?
If not, what can be done about this given the increasing
salience of religion in the modern world order.
The acquisition of knowledge in the field, i.e. an
understanding of the place of religion in the modern world which
takes into account appropriate historical and theoretical
Core academic skills.
The ability to relate a body of knowledge to a specific
historical context. Competence in thinking clearly and arguing
logically about contemporary – as
well as historical – material. The ability to articulate
complex ideas both orally and in writing .
Personal and key skills. Independent study and
group work. The ability to select appropriately from a wide range of
material and to present key arguments clearly. The capacity to
empathize with religious positions and to appreciate that the
familiar is not necessarily the norm.
During the course:
Each student will:
(a) complete a 500 word review of a book
relevant to the course content.
Careful instruction about writing such a review will be given
This assignment is worth 15% of the final mark.
(b) complete a project involving empirical work
of some kind. The
choice of these projects will be determined individually and will
reflect the student’s own interests.
A short report (1500 - 2000 words) must be made on the project.
Careful preparation for this assignment will be built into
the course outline.
This assignment is worth 25% of the final mark
On completion of the course:
Each student is required to write a 3-3500 word
essay on a topic related to the course.
The topic can be selected from a list or chosen by the
student, but the title (together with a one paragraph description of the paper
and a short bibliography), must
be agreed with the course leader before the end of the course.
This assignment is worth 50% of the final mark
16 December 2005
The final 10% of the mark reflects the
student’s participation in and contributions to class discussion.
See “Grading Guidelines” and “General
Guidelines for a Research Paper” (to be distributed).
The early parts of this course are relatively
prescriptive and will be directed by the course leader.
They deal mostly with theoretical approached to the subject.
The latter parts of the course will be increasingly student
driven and their precise content will depend on the experience,
interests and expertise of the group. Here the emphasis lies on empirical cases.
Each class will involve a lecture and
of dates and topics Please
regard these as indicative. The
final sessions will be put in place following a class discussion –
they are intended to reflect the interests of the people present.
Topical events will be included as they occur.
Introduction and planning
Definitions of religion
The Classics (Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim)
Methodologies/ written assignments/ projects
Rational Choice Theory
Religion and Modernity 1
Case study 1: Patterns of religion in modern Europe
Case study 2: Patterns of religion in modern America
Reading week (a good time to complete the book review and the
Case study 3: To
Case study 4: To
Religion and Modernity 2;
Conclusion to the course
Each student will have additional time (either
individually or in groups) to discuss their
personal assignments (the book review, the project, and the
note items marked with an ** (required reading), * (useful resources
for the course as a whole).
the course as a whole
** P. Berger The
Desecularization of the World.
Resurgent Religion and World Politics.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1999
** G. Davie
Exceptional Case. London:
Darton, Longman and Todd, 2002
R. Wuthnow (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion.
W. Swatos (ed) Encyclopaedia of Religion and Society.
Walnut Creek, CA: Alta
Mira Press, 1998 (available online through http://www. hartsem.edu)
* M. McGuire Religion
and the Social Context. Florence
KY: Wadsworth Publishing 2001
K. Christiano, W. Swatos and P. Kivisto
The Sociology of
Creek CA: Alta Mira Press 2001
R. Fenn Blackwell
Companion to the Sociology of Religion.
M. Dillon Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: CUP
* P. Jenkins
Next Christendom: the Coming of Global Christianity.
Oxford: OUP 2002
* D. Martin A
General Theory of Secularization. Oxford:
Heelas et al (ed.) Religion, Modernity and Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell 1998
Woodhead et al. Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations,
London: Routledge 2002
Bruce God is Dead:
Secularization in the West. Oxford:
S. Bruce Politics and Religion. Cambridge:
Polity Press 2003
Beckford Social Theory and Religion. Cambridge:
G Davie Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing
without Belonging. Oxford:
G. Davie Religion in Modern Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000
Religion and Society in
Modern Europe. Oxford:
Sociological Profile of Religion in Europe at the End of the Second
NJ: Transaction Books
McLeod and W. Ustorf (eds) The
Decline of Christendom in Western Europe.
Cambridge: CUP 2003
on the United States
American Religion Data Archive (http://www.arda.tm)
trends in European and American Religion', Sociological
Analysis (2) 1985
Hadaway., P. Marler and M. Chaves (1993) ‘What the polls don’t
show: a closer look at church attendance’, ASR
(58) 1993. See
also the follow up discussion in ASR
Ammerman Congregation and Community. New
Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press 1997
Ammerman Pillars of Faith: American
Congregations and their Partners.
Berkeley: University of California Press 2005.
Roof A Generation of Seekers. San Francisco: Harper Collins 1993
Roof The Spiritual Marketplace. Princeton
NJ: Princeton University Press
Transformation of American Religion.
New York: Free Press
Wuthnow The Restructuring of American Religion, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press 1989
Wuthnow After Heaven. Spirituality
in America since the 1950s. Princeton NJ: Princeton University
The first two texts on this list are required
reading. The remainder
have been chosen to indicate the range of resources available to the
student. A more detailed list will be supplied on the first day of the
course, suggesting readings for each session.
Each student will be
assigned a particular reading to bring to class.
Supplementary material will be provided depending upon the
case studies selected.