Theories of Religion

A Reader

Author: Seth Daniel Kunin,Jonathan Miles-Watson

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

ISBN: 9780813539652

Category: Religion

Page: 524

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This book provides a comprehensive selection of readings that relate to and explore the definition of religion. The texts come from a wide range of approaches, unified both by the questions they address and their broadly social scientific perspective. The disciplines covered include anthropology, phenomenology, psychology and sociology. The editors have also included some key texts relating to the feminist approach to and critique of religion. The initial section of the book includes some of the foundational texts, such as materials by Marx, Freud, and Durkheim. The remaining sections look at more recent discussions of the issues from the different disciplinary perspectives. Each reading is introduced by a biographical sketch of the author. The book also includes introductory discussions to each section that both raise the key issues developed in a particular discipline and address the disciplinary approaches from a more critical stance. Theories of Religion: A Reader is an invaluable critical resource, accessible to a broad audience as well as students of theology and religious studies.Seth D. Kunin, dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Durham, is author of Religion: the Modern Theories, coeditor of A Companion to Religious Studies and Theology, and editor of Themes and Issues in Judaism. Jonathan Miles-Watson is lecturer in anthropology at the University of Wales Swansea.
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Contemporary Theories of Religion

A Critical Companion

Author: Michael Stausberg

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1134041470

Category: Religion

Page: 320

View: 4769

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Interest in theories of religion has never been greater. Scholars debate single theoretical approaches in different scholarly journals, while the ‘new atheists’ such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett criticize the whole idea of religion. For everyone eager to understand the current state of the field, Contemporary Theories of Religion surveys the neglected landscape in its totality. Michael Stausberg brings together leading scholars of the field to review and discuss seventeen contemporary theories of religion. As well as scholars of religion, it features anthropologists, archaeologists, classicists, evolutionary biologists, philosophers and sociologists. Each chapter provides students with background information on the theoretician, a presentation of the theory’s basic principles, an analysis of basic assumptions, and a review of previous critiques. Concluding with a section entitled 'Back and Forth', Stausberg compares the different theories and points to further avenues of discussion for the future.
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Feminism in the Study of Religion

Author: Darlene Juschka

Publisher: A&C Black

ISBN: 9780826447272

Category: Social Science

Page: 700

View: 432

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Written by feminist scholars over a period of nearly thirty years, the selected readings are wide-ranging in content, offer a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural perspective, and reflect the work of scholars working within religious studies as well as other disciplines.The introductory essays link the sections and are packed with useful information on resources, issues, and the current debates. The book illustrates how debates about feminism within the study of religions have been impacted by broader theoretical discussions and provides evidence that feminist scholars working on religion have made their own contribution to feminist theory.
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A Systems Theory of Religion

Author: Niklas Luhmann

Publisher: Stanford University Press

ISBN: 080478793X

Category: Social Science

Page: 320

View: 841

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A Systems Theory of Religion, still unfinished at Niklas Luhmann's death in 1998, was first published in German two years later thanks to the editorial work of André Kieserling. One of Luhmann's most important projects, it exemplifies his later work while redefining the subject matter of the sociology of religion. Religion, for Luhmann, is one of the many functionally differentiated social systems that make up modern society. All such subsystems consist entirely of communications and all are "autopoietic," which is to say, self-organizing and self-generating. Here, Luhmann explains how religion provides a code for coping with the complexity, opacity, and uncontrollability of our world. Religion functions to make definite the indefinite, to reconcile the immanent and the transcendent. Synthesizing approaches as disparate as the philosophy of language, historical linguistics, deconstruction, and formal systems theory/cybernetics, A Systems Theory of Religion takes on important topics that range from religion's meaning and evolution to secularization, turning decades of sociological assumptions on their head. It provides us with a fresh vocabulary and a fresh philosophical and sociological approach to one of society's most fundamental phenomena.
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The Sociology of Religion

A Substantive and Transdisciplinary Approach

Author: George Lundskow

Publisher: Pine Forge Press

ISBN: 1412937213

Category: Social Science

Page: 445

View: 1936

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Using a lively narrative, The Sociology of Religion is an insightful text that follows the logic of actual research, first investigating the facts of religion in all its great diversity, including its practices and beliefs, and then analyzing actual examples of religious developments using relevant conceptual frameworks. As a result, students actively engage in the discovery, learning, and analytical processes as they progress through the textùjust as a scholar pursues knowledge in the field and then applies theoretical constructs to interpret findings.This unique text is organized around essential topics and real-life issues and examines religion both as an object of sociological analysis as well as a device for seeking personal meaning in life. While primarily sociological in focus, the text incorporates relevant interdisciplinary scholarshipùthus teaching sociological perspectives on religion while introducing students to relevant research from other fields. Sidebar features and photographs of religious figures bring the text to life for readers.Key Features and Benefits:Uses substantive and truly contemporary real-life religious issues of current interest to engage the reader in a way few other texts doCombines theory with empirical examples drawn from the United States and around the world, emphasizing a critical and analytical perspective that encourages better understanding of the material presentedFeatures discussions of emergent religions, consumerism, and the link between religion, sports, and other forms of popular cultureDraws upon interdisciplinary literature, helping students appreciate the contributions of other disciplines while primarily developing an understanding of the sociology of religion InstructorÆs Resources on CD-ROM· InstructorÆs Resources on CD-ROM contains chapter outlines, summaries, multiple-choice questions, essay questions, and short answer questions as well as illustrations from the book. Contact Customer Care at 1-800-818-SAGE (7243) to request a copy (6:00 a.m.û5:00 p.m., PST).Intended Audience: This core text is designed for upper-level undergraduate students of Sociology of Religion or Religion and Politics.
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Theory and Method in the Study of Religion

A Selection of Critical Readings

Author: Carl Olson

Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing Company

ISBN: N.A

Category: Religion

Page: 602

View: 2722

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This anthology provides students with a useful collection of theoretical essays concerning the nature of religion and the methodological means by which scholars analytically approach the subject. Organized in a point/counterpoint fashion, this volume will foster in-class discussion and the honing of a student's own critical perspectives.
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Faces in the Clouds

A New Theory of Religion

Author: Stewart Elliott Guthrie

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780195356809

Category: Religion

Page: 670

View: 5852

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Religion is universal human culture. No phenomenon is more widely shared or more intensely studied, yet there is no agreement on what religion is. Now, in Faces in the Clouds, anthropologist Stewart Guthrie provides a provocative definition of religion in a bold and persuasive new theory. Guthrie says religion can best be understood as systematic anthropomorphism--that is, the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman things and events. Many writers see anthropomorphism as common or even universal in religion, but few think it is central. To Guthrie, however, it is fundamental. Religion, he writes, consists of seeing the world as humanlike. As Guthrie shows, people find a wide range of humanlike beings plausible: Gods, spirits, abominable snowmen, HAL the computer, Chiquita Banana. We find messages in random events such as earthquakes, weather, and traffic accidents. We say a fire "rages," a storm "wreaks vengeance," and waters "lie still." Guthrie says that our tendency to find human characteristics in the nonhuman world stems from a deep-seated perceptual strategy: in the face of pervasive (if mostly unconscious) uncertainty about what we see, we bet on the most meaningful interpretation we can. If we are in the woods and see a dark shape that might be a bear or a boulder, for example, it is good policy to think it is a bear. If we are mistaken, we lose little, and if we are right, we gain much. So, Guthrie writes, in scanning the world we always look for what most concerns us--livings things, and especially, human ones. Even animals watch for human attributes, as when birds avoid scarecrows. In short, we all follow the principle--better safe than sorry. Marshalling a wealth of evidence from anthropology, cognitive science, philosophy, theology, advertising, literature, art, and animal behavior, Guthrie offers a fascinating array of examples to show how this perceptual strategy pervades secular life and how it characterizes religious experience. Challenging the very foundations of religion, Faces in the Clouds forces us to take a new look at this fundamental element of human life.
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Choice and Religion

A Critique of Rational Choice Theory

Author: Steve Bruce

Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand

ISBN: 9780198295846

Category: Social Science

Page: 247

View: 373

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The orthodox view is that the democracies of the western world have become increasingly secular over the twentieth century. Fewer and fewer people have chosen to believe, and the church has declined markedlyas religion has changed from being part of an identity ascribed at birth to being a matter of personal choice. Choice and Religion provides a detailed critique of the 'rational choice' approach to religion to demonstrate that industrialisation has secularised the western world and that diversity,far from making religion more popular by allowing individuals to maximize their returns, undermines it. The claim that diversity and competition promote religion is refuted with evidence from a wide variety of western societies. Bruce examine the Nordic countries and the ex-communist states ofeastern Europe to explore the consequences of different sorts of state regulation, and to show that ethnicity is a more powerful determinate of religious change than market structures. Where religion matters, it is not because individuals are maximising their returns, it is because it defines groupidentity and is heavily implicated in social conflict.
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Modes of Religiosity

A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission

Author: Harvey Whitehouse

Publisher: Rowman Altamira

ISBN: 9780759106154

Category: Religion

Page: 193

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Religions whatever else they may be are configurations of cultural information reproduced across space and time. Beginning with this seemingly obvious fact of religious transmission, Harvey Whitehouse goes on to construct a testable theory of how religions are created, passed on, and changed. At the center of his theory are two divergent 'modes of religiosity: ' the imagistic and the doctrinal. Drawing from recent advances in cognitive science, Whitehouse's theory shows how religions tend to coalesce around one of these two poles depending on how religious behaviors are remembered. In the 'imagistic mode, ' rituals have a lasting impact on people's minds, haunting not only our memories but influencing the way we ruminate on religious topics. These psychological features are linked to the scale and structure of religious communities, fostering small, exclusive, and ideologically heterogeneous ritual groupings or factions. In the 'doctrinal mode', on the other hand, religious knowledge is primarily spread through intensive and repetitive teaching; religious communities are contrastingly large, inclusive, and centrally regulated. While these tendencies have long been recognized in the history of the study of religion, the modes of religiosity theory is unique in that it explains why these tendencies exist. More importantly, Whitehouse does not give the final word, but invites us to join a series of collaborative networks among anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, and psychologists, currently trying to falsify, confirm, or refine the theory. Are you tired of the flood of descriptions and interpretations of religions which offer no clear strategy for evaluation, comparison, and testing? Modes of Religiosity can provide you with a new way to think when you think about religion."
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More Than Belief

A Materialist Theory of Religion

Author: Manuel A. Vásquez

Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand

ISBN: 0195188535

Category: Social Science

Page: 382

View: 6569

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Over the past several decades, postmodernist and postcolonial challenges to traditional theories and methods have revolutionized the social sciences. The discipline of religious studies, however, has been relatively slow to confront these developments, continuing to rely heavily on textual methods and a framework that privileges belief over practice, doctrine over performance, text over context, and inner emotion over public ritual. Recently, however, developments in social theory have begun to transform the study of religion. In this book, Manuel Vasquez maps out the dynamics of this paradigm shift, exploring systematically the epistemological and methodological challenges contemporary social theory poses for traditional approaches to religious studies. Offering a panoramic view of key debates on identity, culture, and society across the social sciences, he assesses the impact of these debates on the study of religion, offering specific examples of how they are shaping the study of particular religious traditions. He concludes by proposing a robust yet flexible materialist approach to the study of religion that will be capable of addressing the increasing complexity of religious life.
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