Academic Programs 
      

Religion as a Social Phenomenon: The Sociological Study of Religion   (RS-536)
Spring 2008

This course explores the social contexts of religious experience and religious organizations. It introduces classical theories of religion by Marx, Durkheim, and Weber and highlights current trends in the sociological study of religion. Students will critically assess positions on secularization, ‘lived religion,’ race, gender, new religious movements, militarization, social change, and American politics. While the seminar focuses attention on religion in the U.S., it will also explore global patterns in religious communities.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Mondays from 7 to 9:20 PM, beginning January 28

Edward Waggoner

Adjunct Professor of Religion and Society and Adjunct Professor in Religion at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT

Contact Information:
Phone:
Email: edwaggoner@gmail.com

 

Course Syllabus



COURSE REQUIREMENTS
1. Class attendance, participation, and weekly discussion questions (30%)

2. Six (6) ‘critical reading reports’ (30%)
These are 2 pp. each, on a chapter or article we read. A critical reading report includes a brief summary (1-2 paragraphs) of the reading and critical discussion of its contents.

3. Two (2) ‘observation reports’ (40%)
These are 5 pp. each, about an event the student observes or a person/group she or he interviews. An observation report includes a brief summary (1p.) of what was observed and then an analysis of it, using the categories and concepts of the course.

REQUIRED TEXTS
Ammerman, Nancy T. Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives
, ed. Nancy T. Ammerman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Roberts, Keith A. Religion in Sociological Perspective, 4th ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004).

RECOMMENDED TEXTS
Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism, ed. Thomas F. Banchoff (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook
(4th ed.), eds. Stuart M. Matlins and Arthur J. Magida (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2006).

Studying Congregations: A New Handbook
, ed. Nancy T. Ammerman, et al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998).

COURSE OUTLINE

Jan 28 Course Introduction

Feb 4 Definitions, Methods, and Problems in Sociology of Religion
A. Definitions and Methods

1. McGuire, Meredith, “The Sociological Perspective on Religion,” in Religion: The Social Context (2001), pp. 1-24 [24 pp.]

B. Insider/Outsider Questions

2. Wiebe, Donald, “Does Understanding Religion Require Religious Understanding?” in The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, ed. Russell T. McCutcheon (1999) [10 pp.]

3. Orsi, Robert, “Have You Ever Prayed to St. Jude? Reflections on Fieldwork in Catholic Chicago,” in Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them (2006) [31 pp.]

Feb 11 Basic Theories in Sociology of Religion – Classical and Contemporary
A. Classical

1. Selections from Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.

B. Contemporary

2. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, chs. 3 & 4 [24 + 25 pp.]
3. Berger, Peter, “Religion and World-Construction” and “Religion and World-Maintenance,” in Theories of Religion: A Reader, ed. Seth D. Kunin (2006) [10 pp.]

Feb 18 NO CLASS – President’s Day

Feb 25 Conversion and Community
A. Conversion

1. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, ch. 5 [33 pp.]
2. Dana, Hamid, “A WASP Turned Muslim,” in Voices of American Muslims, pp. 83-92 [9 pp.]

B. Community

3. Ammerman, Nancy, “Building Communities: Food, Fun, and Fellowship,” Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners (2005), pp. 51-68 [17 pp.]

Mar 3 Religious Movements and Organizations
A. Emergence and Survival of Movements

1. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, chs. 6 & 7 [41 pp.]

B. Organization

2. Warner, Stephen, “The Place of the Congregation in the Contemporary American Religious Configuration,” in Church of Our Own: Disestablishment and Diversity in American Religion (2005), pp. 145-182 [37 pp.]

Mar 10 ‘Lived Religion’
A. Cyberspace

1. Lövheim, Mia, “Virtually Boundless? Youth Negotiating Tradition in Cyberspace,” in Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, ed. Nancy Ammerman (2007), pp. 83-102 [19 pp.]

B. Bodies and Religious Experience

2. McGuire, Meredith, “Embodied Practices: Negotiation and Resistance,” in Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, ed. Nancy Ammerman (2007), pp. 187-200 [13 pp.]
3. Bender, Courtney, “Touching the Transcendent: Rethinking Religious Experience in the Sociological Study of Religion,” in Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, ed. Nancy Ammerman (2007), pp. 201-218 [17 pp.]

Mar 17 – NO CLASS – Spring Break

Mar 24 Religion and Social Stratification
A. Economics and Social Class

1. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, ch. 9 [17 pp.]

B. Religious Ideology

2. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, ch. 10 [31 pp.]
3. Balmer, Randall, “Adirondack Fundamentalism,” in Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey Into the Evangelical Subculture in America (2006), pp. 92-108 [16 pp.]

C. Video and Group Discussion: Jesus Camp

Mar 31 Social Constructions of Differences
A. Gender

1. Neitz, M.J., “Queering the Dragonfest: Changing Sexualities in a Post-Patriarchal Religion, in Sociology of Religion 61(4): 369-392 [23 pp.]
2. Bartkowski, John, “Connections and Contradictions: Exploring the Complex Linkages between Faith and Family,” in Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, ed. Nancy Ammerman (2007), pp. 153-166 [13 pp.]

B. Race

3. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, ch. 11 [18 pp.]
4. Billingsley, Andrew, “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian,” in Mighty Like a River: The Black Church and Social Reform (2003), pp. 170-184 [14 pp.]

April 7 Militarization and Religion
A. What is Militarization?

1. Enloe, Cynthia, “How Do They Militarize a Can of Soup?” in Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 1-34 [34 pp.]

B. Military Community and the Military Chaplain

2. Lutz, Catherine, Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century (2002), ch. 6
3. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Religious Support in Joint Operations (2004)

April 14 Religion and Social Change
A. Theory

1. McGuire, Meredith, “The Impact of Religion on Social Change,” in Religion: The Social Context, pp. 236-282 [46 pp.]

B. The Work of Congregations


2. Ammerman, Nancy, “Extending the Community: Serving the Needy, Saving Souls” and “Doing Good Together: Networks of Work in the World,” in Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners (2005), pp. 115-205 [90 pp.]

April 21 Secularization
A. The Debates

1. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, chs. 13 & 14 [47 pp.]
2. Warner, Stephen, “Work in Progress toward a New Paradigm for the Sociological Study of Religion in the United States,” in Church of Our Own: Disestablishment and Diversity in American Religion (2005), pp. 18-62 [44 pp.]

B. Youth and the Future

3. Smith, Christian, “Is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism the New Religion of American Youth? Implications for the Challenge of Religious Socialization and Reproduction,” in Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, ed. James L. Heft (2006), pp. 218-246 [28 pp.]

April 28 Religion, Globalization, and Immigration
A. Overview

1. Roberts, Religion in Sociological Perspective, ch. 16 [26 pp.]

B. Case Studies

2. Hagan, Jacqueline Maria, “Religion and the Process of Migration: A Case Study of a Maya Transnational Community,” in Religion Across Borders: Transnational Immigrant Networks, eds. Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz (2002), pp. 75-92 [17 pp.]
3. Bagby, Ihsan, “Second-Generation Muslim Immigrants in Detroit Mosques: The Second Generation’s Search for Their Place and Identity in the American Mosque,” in Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, ed. James L. Heft (2006), pp. 218-246 [28 pp.]

May 5 Religious Pluralism and American Democracy
A. Civic Engagement

1. Foley, Michael W. and Dean R. Hoge, “Immigrant Worship Communities in the Public Square,” in Religion and the New Immigrants: How Faith Communities Form Our Newest Citizens (2007), pp. 115-150 [35 pp.]

B. Specific Traditions

2. Kurien, Prema. “Multiculturalism and ‘American’ Religion: The Case of Hindu Indian Americans.” Social Forces 85, no. 2 (2006): 723-741.
3. Esposito, John L. “American Muslims: Issues of Identity, Religious Diversity, and Pluralism.” In Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism (2007), ed. Thomas F. Banchoff, pp. 133-150 [17 pp.]


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