This module covers key issues and debates in the sociology of religion in order to interrogate the significance of religious practice and belief in the modern world. After an introductory lecture, the module is organised into two connected parts. Firstly, it explores classical statements on the sources, meaning and fate of religion in modernity by examining the writings of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Georg Simmel, and using their analyses to interrogate current events (e.g. ‘prosperity Pentecostalism’, the rise of the supernatural in culture through such media as the Harry Potter novels, and violent responses to transgressions of what religions consider to be sacred). The emphasis here is on developing in students the knowledge and skills necessary to appreciate and engage critically with the significance of religion for the development of sociology, and with key statements about the modern fate of religion in and beyond the West. Second, the module explores core issues concerned with and associated with the secularisation debate. Here, we look not only at conventional arguments concerning secularisation and de-secularisation, but also at the significance of ‘the return of the sacred’ in society, civil religion, the material experience of religion, and the manner in which religious identities and habits are developed in the contemporary world. This enables us to develop new perspectives on the viability of religion in current times.
Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150
Method of assessment
Main assessment methods
Coursework –essay (2250 words) - 40%
Coursework – seminar participation – 10%
Examination (2 hours) – 50%
100% course work
Butler, J. et al. (2011) The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. Columbia University Press
Casanova, J. (1994) Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago: Chicago
Davie, G. (2013) The Sociology of Religion. London: Sage. Chapter 1.
De Vries, H. (2008) (ed.), Religion. Beyond a Concept. New York: Fordham University Press
Mellor, P.A. and Shilling, C. (2014) Sociology of the Sacred. London: Sage.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
The intended subject specific learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1.Consolidate knowledge about how religion shapes human identities and social relationships
2.Demonstrate in-depth appreciation of how religion constitutes a basis for the creation, reproduction and transformation of society and culture
3.Conceptualise the relationship between practice and belief in the contemporary era
4.Demonstrate systematic understanding of some of the major sociological theories which have explored the relationship between religion and society
5.Apply knowledge about how religious practices might be implicated in the construction, maintenance and reproduction of social inequalities
6.Critically evaluate the area of 'religious body pedagogics' as explored through competing notions of the habitus
7Conceptualise the relationship between religious experience and different modes of materiality and media
The intended generic learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1.Understand and critically evaluate the main dimensions of theoretical approaches towards the subjects under investigation
2.Interrogate and integrate diverse sources of sociological and cultural analysis and information and produce distinctive knowledge
3. Analyse case studies with the assistance of interdisciplinary resources,
4.Think critically about reading material and discuss and express arguments informed by the literature in a seminar setting
5.Undertake accurate investigation and description, and develop logical arguments based on an understanding of the literature and express these arguments clearly in a written format;
6.Work cooperatively with others in seminar groups
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Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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