Sociology of Religion - TH558

Sorry, this module is not currently running in 2019-20.




Also available as a 'Wild' module



The aim of this module is to enable students to think sociologically about religious life. Whilst addressing key debates within the sociology of religion (e.g. secularisation, subjectivisation), it seeks to introduce students to core concepts and methods in sociology that will enable them to understand religious life in terms of broader social structures and processes. Examples of issues covered in the module include: the nature of sociology as a discipline, macro and micro levels of analysis, the agency/structure debate and the nature of social structure, individualisation, and sociological perspectives on gender, class, emotion, materiality and belief. The significance of intersectionality between different social structures will also be discussed, and useful sources of secondary data (e.g. BRIN) will be explored. The central assessment task for the module – a case study presenting the sociological analysis of the nature and place of religion in a particular individual's life – brings these theoretical and methodological approaches together into a micro-level analysis of lived religion in a way that is informed by broader social and cultural structures. Examples of good writing in this style of sociological research are presented and explored through the module.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 30

Method of assessment

100% Coursework:

Essay (2,000 words) – 25%
Case Study (5,000 words) – 75%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Clarke, P. (2011) The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davie, G. (2007) The Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: Polity.
Furseth, I. & Repstad, P. (2006) An Introduction to the Sociology of Religion. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Hinnells, J. (ed.) (2010) The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
Riis, O. & Woodhead, L. (2010) A Sociology of Religious Emotion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Turner, B. (2010) The New Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion. Chichester: John Wiley.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:

- Demonstrate their understanding of the discipline of sociology in the context of other disciplines relevant to the study of religion.

- Make use of their critical understanding of key sociological concepts and debates (e.g. structure and agency) to analyse issues relevant to lived religion.

- Critically evaluate how religious life may be shaped through the intersection of a range of social structures and processes.

- Write a case study which imaginatively weaves together an account of a person's context, experience, relationships and practices with relevant sociological concepts and frameworks in ways that illuminate both the empirical data and the concepts.

- Critically evaluate the value and limitations of different theoretical accounts of the relationship between religion and the social and cultural contexts of modernity, including demonstrating a sensitive awareness of areas in which theoretical explanations are relatively underdeveloped or unconvincing.

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