Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives

Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives

Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives

Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives

Synopsis

Scholars once predicted a bleak existence for religion in the modern world. Social progress, they argued, meant doing away with religion and its antiquated control over our lives. Religion, however, is actually thriving in pluralistic and complex societies, and its continued vibrancy-even resurgence--demands a reevaluation of ideas about secularization.
Nancy T. Ammerman has assembled a diverse and interdisciplinary group of scholars to provide a critical observation of modern religion in action. This collection of previously unpublished essays approaches modern religion at its most fundamental levels and brings the reader into the presence of religious practice among the complexities of daily life. The authors take aim at the failure of secularization theories to explain why and how people continue to choose religion in the midst of modernity. Each essay combines a portrait of religious activity in often-unexpected places with an evaluation of currently dominant theories to offer a fresh alternative perspective.
From media to politics to family and civic life, these scholars look for the ways religion crosses boundaries and compare its effects in different cultural and institutional situations. These insightful essays identify a new approach to the study of religion, one that emphasizes individual experience and social context over fixed categories and statistical equations.

Excerpt

Anthologies tend to be uneven. This one is not. It opens with pieces by three international stars of the sociology of religion—Nancy Ammerman from the United States (who also served as the convener and editor of the team of contributors), Grace Davie from Britain, and Enzo Pace from Italy. And each of the chapters following this opening salvo makes an excellent contribution to the topic of the volume: the way in which contemporary religion, refusing to be confined to formal religious institutions, penetrates everyday life. This is a book that should be of interest not only to academic scholars of religion but also to a much broader public in which there is today a growing interest in religion.

Much of the sociology of religion has dealt either with the aforementioned institutions—that is, broadly speaking, with the internal condition and the societal role of churches—or with survey data covering the beliefs and behavior of large populations. Obviously, both procedures have yielded important insights. But what both have in common is remoteness from much of what constitutes the reality of religion in the lives of many people.

Of course churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations continue to play an important role in contemporary society. But much of religious life takes place outside these institutional locales. To limit the study of religion to these locales would be like, say, studying politics by only looking at the activities of organized political parties. As far back as 1967, in his influential book The Invisible Religion, Thomas Luckmann insisted that sociologists must be attentive to religious phenomena that are “institutionally diffuse.” Probably this has . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.