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Religion in Sociological Perspective

Religion in Sociological Perspective

Seventh Edition
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Sociology of Religion

December 2018 | 464 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The authors are proud sponsors of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Religion in Sociological Perspective introduces students to the systems of meaning, structure, and belonging that make up the complex social phenomena we know as religion. Authors Keith A. Roberts and David Yamane use an active learning approach to illustrate the central theories and methods of research in the sociology of religion and show students how to apply these analytical tools to new groups they encounter.

The Seventh Edition departs from previous editions by emphasizing that the sociology of religion is an ongoing conversation among scholars in dialogue with existing scholarship and the social world. This perspective is established in the new second chapter, “Historical Development of the Sociology of Religion.” Other chapters feature important voices from the past alongside the views of contemporary sociologists, and conclude with a glimpse of where the sociology of religion might be heading in the future. At every opportunity, the text has been enriched by research and examples that are meant to challenge parochial limits in the sociology of religion, pushing beyond Christianity, congregations, beliefs, national borders (especially the United States), and even beyond religion itself (to take nonreligion more seriously).
PART I: Introduction to the Sociology of Religion
Chapter 1: What Do We Mean by the Term Religion?
Substantive Definitions

Functional Definitions

A Symbolic Definition

Invisible Religion

Lived Religion

Spiritual but Not Religious?

The Concept of Religion as Employed in This Text

A Final Word About Definitions

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 2: Historical Development of the Sociology of Religion
The Classical Era

The Secularization Paradigm

New Religious Developments

New Paradigms

Neosecularization Theory

Future Prospects

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 3: A Social Scientific Approach to Studying Religion
The Sociological Approach to Studying Religion

Survey Research and Statistical Analysis


Participant Observation

Content Analysis

Historical–Comparative Analysis



Summary and Looking Forward

PART II: Religion in the Lives of Individuals
Chapter 4: Becoming and Being Religious
Religious Socialization and the Intergenerational Transmission of Religion

Religion Over the Life Course

Religion and Identity

Religious “Nones”

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 5: Conversion, Switching, and Apostasy
Conversion, Brainwashing, and the New Religious Movements

Process Models of Conversion

Religious Choices and Commitments: A Rational Choice Model

Religious Switching


Summary and Looking Forward

PART III: Organizing Religion
Chapter 6: Churches, Sects, Denominations, and “Cults”
Charisma and the Charismatic Leader

The Routinization of Charisma

Classifying Religious Organizations

The Church–Sect Typology

Denominationalism and the Denominational Society

Beyond Denominations?

New Religious Movements, a.k.a. “Cults”

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 7: Congregationalism and Congregations
Denominations and De Facto Congregationalism

Congregational Demography

What Do Congregations Do?


Multi-Site and Networked Religious Organizations

“New Paradigm” and “Seeker” Churches

Summary and Looking Forward

PART IV: Religion, Social Difference, and Inequality
Chapter 8: Religion, Economics, and Social Class
Religious Ethics and Economic Action

The Prosperity Gospel and Modern Capitalism

Religion and Work

Religion and Social Class Stratification

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 9: Religion and Race
Religion and Racial/Ethnic Prejudice

The Racialization of Religious Groups

Religion in the African American Community

Racial Segregation in Congregations

Explaining Congregational Racial Segregation

Race/Ethnicity and Religious Affiliation

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 10: Religion and Gender
Religion as a Gendered Social Institution

Gendered Religious Organizational Structures

Gendered Patterns of Religiosity

Negotiating Gender in Religious Communities

Gender Beyond Women

Gender Beyond Male and Female

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 11: Religion and Sexuality
Religion, Heteronormativity, and Homonegativity

Religious Divisions Over Same-Sex Marriage

LGBTQIA+ Clergy Controversies

Congregational Responses to Sexual Diversity

LGBTQIA+ Religious Identities and Practices

Summary and Looking Forward

Part V: Social Change and Religion
Chapter 12: Religion Outside the (God) Box
Religion and the “Old” Media

Religion and the “New Media”

Religion and Sport

Other Manifestations of Religion Outside Traditional God Boxes

Summary and Looking Forward

Chapter 13: Religion, Social Stability, and Social Conflict
Religion Functions to Provide Meaning and Belonging

Religion and Legitimation of the Social Order

Religion and Social Conflict

Religion: Opiate or Stimulant?


Chapter 14: Religion and Globalization
Globalization of Religions

The Impact of Globalization on Religion

Transnational Religious Connections

Religious Glocalization

Religion in Global Affairs

Summary and Looking Forward



Instructor Resource Site

SAGE edge for instructors supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students with:
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  • test banks that provide a diverse range of ready-to-use options that save you time. You can also easily edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions;
  • a link to Association of Religion Data Archives resources specifically aligned to each chapter to support teaching; and  
  • term paper projects that provide detailed specifications for assigning.

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ISBN: 9781506366067