The aim of this course is to understand more fully, and
from a sociological perspective, the parameters (patterns) of faith in the
modern world. It will draw from
many different examples, most of which are Christian, but will include
perspectives from other faiths. The
starting point will be West Europe – examining this from a variety of view
points (seeing what Europe looks like from outside as well as from within).
From a conceptual point of view, the course will challenge
the notion the 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 perspectives.
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.
Before the course begins:
Each student must
(a) complete a 500 word review of Grace Davie
the Exceptional Case. Parameters
of faith in the Modern World. London:
Darton, Longman and Todd 2002.
This assignment is worth 20% of the final mark.
(b) bring to the class some piece of evidence concerning
either the funeral of Pope John Paul II or the debate about homosexuality in the
Anglican Communion. Such evidence
might include press cuttings, a short article, statistical material, first hand
accounts, evidence of contrasting opinions etc.
During the course:
Students will be asked to prepare oral presentations to the
class. These will be set on the
first day and will be tailored to the student’s experience and interests.
Taken together, oral contributions will constitute 10% of
the final mark.
On completion of the course:
Each student is required to write a 15 page (double spaced)
essay on a topic related to the course. The
topic can be selected from a list or chosen by the student, but
the title must be agreed with the course leader before the end of the course.
This assignment is worth 70% of the final mark
Due date: 1
Please e-mail assignments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The latter parts of the course will be largely student driven and their
precise content will depend on the experience, interests and expertise of the
Each day has been split into four sessions (two in the
morning and two in the afternoon); these
divisions should be treated as a guide only.
Monday 13 June
Session 1: Introductions
and brainstorming on (a) the funeral of Pope John Paul II and (b) the issue of
homosexuality in the Anglican Communion.
Session 2: Parameters
of faith in modern Europe (majority churches)
Session 3: Parameters
of faith in modern Europe (religious minorities)
Session 4: Planning
the week – case studies and contributions.
Tuesday 14 June
Sessions 1 and 2: The
secularization paradigm; content
Session 3: Parameters
of faith in the United States (majority churches)
Session 4: Parameters
of faith in the United States (the New Christian Right)
Wednesday 15 June
Sessions 1 and 2: Rational
Choice Theory; content and
Session 3: Planning
a case study (a global region outside Europe and the United States or a global
Session 4: Group
work; library time;
written assignments (1).
Thursday 16 June
Sessions 1 and 2: Case
study A (a global region outside Europe and the United States)
Sessions 3 and 4: Case
study B (a global religious movement – e.g. Pentecostalism)
Friday 17 June
Sessions 1 and 2: Case
study C (a global religious movement)
Sessions 3 and 4: Gathering
the threads; the notion of
‘multiple modernities’; possible futures for religion;
written assignments (2).
Please note items
marked with an ** (required reading), * (useful reading for the whole course)
course as a whole
Davie Europe: the Exceptional
Case. London: Darton,
Longman and Todd, 2002
** P. Berger The
Desecularization of the World. Resurgent
Religion and World Politics. Grand
Rapids: Eerdman 1999
W. Swatos (ed) Encyclopaedia of
Religion and Society. Walnut
Creek, CA: Alta
Mira Press, 1998 (available
online through http://www. hartsem.edu)
R.Wuthnow (ed.) The Encyclopedia of
Politics and Religion. London:
God is Dead .Secularization in the West.
Oxford: Blackwell, 2001
Politics and Religion.
Cambridge: Polity Press
* P. Jenkins The
Next Christendom : the Coming of Global Christianity.
Oxford: OUP 2002
A General Theory of Secularization.
Oxford: Blackwell, 1978
Material on Europe
European Values Study (http://www.europeanvalues.nl)
G. Davie Religion
in Modern Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000
R. Rémond Religion
and Society in Modern Europe. Oxford:
A Sociological Profile of religion
in Europe at the End of the Second Millennium.
Somerset NJ: Transaction
and W. Ustorf (eds) The
Decline of Christendom in Western Europe. Cambridge:
on the United States
American Religion Data Archive (http://www.arda.tm)
'Contrasting trends in European and American Religion', Sociological
Analysis (2) 1985
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 (63)
Ammerman Congregation and Community. New
Brunswick NJ: 1997
and W. McKinney American Mainline Religion: its
changing shape and future. New
Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press 1987
A Generation of Seekers. San Francisco: Harper Collins 1993
The Spiritual Marketplace, Princeton
NJ: Princeton University Press
The Restructuring of American Religion, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press 1989
After Heaven. Spirituality
in America since the 1950s. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press 1999.
A more detailed reading list will be supplied on the first
day of the course; supplementary
material will be provided depending on the case studies selected.