Civil Religion and Moral Order: Theoretical and Historical Dimensions

Civil Religion and Moral Order: Theoretical and Historical Dimensions

Civil Religion and Moral Order: Theoretical and Historical Dimensions

Civil Religion and Moral Order: Theoretical and Historical Dimensions

Synopsis

"Michael Hughey has written an important book, one that should attract the attention of scholars in religion, sociology, and history. He has sought to apply the analytical perspective of Max Weber and Paul Radin to the study of civil religion in America. Throughout the work, this perspective is posed against Durkheimian functionalism, the dominant method of study of civil religion." - Quarterly Journal of Ideology

Excerpt

The present work focuses on perhaps the original and certainly still one of the most fundamental sociological inquiries: How is society possible? More specifically, it is concerned with the relationship between what are held to be common values and the production and maintenance of social order. and more specifically still, it constitutes an effort to critically examine the empirical validity of a theoretical tradition that has given sustained attention to this relationship.

The theoretical tradition examined is that outlined originally by Emile Durkheim and modified and empirically applied by his intellectual descendants in sociology and anthropology. Generally, it holds that every relatively stable society will possess a set of shared beliefs and symbols that express the highest values of the society and that are considered sacred. Against the many conflicts present in everyday life, the collective sharing of these values serves to remind members of society of what they hold in common, thereby providing for the order, stability, and integration of the society as a whole. Periodic collective rites, during which the shared values are celebrated and reaffirmed, constitute the specific mechanisms through which these states are attained and sustained. These themes, which constitute the central components of Durkheim's related sociologies of religion and morality, are elaborated in Chapter 1.

Critical examination of any interpretation of social reality presupposes an alternative viewpoint from which the criticism can be . . .

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