The Church, Society, and Hegemony: A Critical Sociology of Religion in Latin America

The Church, Society, and Hegemony: A Critical Sociology of Religion in Latin America

The Church, Society, and Hegemony: A Critical Sociology of Religion in Latin America

The Church, Society, and Hegemony: A Critical Sociology of Religion in Latin America

Synopsis

This book provides a critical sociology of religion in Latin America. It discusses the notion of religion as part of social, cultural, and political processes in capitalist societies, drawing on the classics of sociological thought (Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Gramsci). Thus, churches are analyzed as organized institutions of religious mediation intimately linked to the production of social, cultural, and political hegemony in Latin America. The Catholic Church, the dominant church in the region, is analyzed in terms of its transformations from conquest and colonization through the changing winds of Vatican II to the revolutionary experiences of the popular church in the seventies and eighties.

Excerpt

The Church, Society and Hegemony: A Critical Sociology of Religion in Latin America, by the noted Latin American sociologist Carlos Alberto Torres, is a welcome addition to the specialized literature. This book may be seen as composed of three parts. The first section, from Chapter 1 to Chapter 5--in which a number of classical writers are re-interpreted-- provides a sociological framework for the study of religion. In the second section, Chapters 6 to 8, the author delves into the general theme of his work: the question of the "Popular Church" in Latin America. Finally, Chapter 9 is concerned with the Church in Argentina, from the colonization until the generation of 1880, through the period of military repression between 1976 and 1983, to the emergence of Argentine democracy after 1983.

Marx's view of the religious question is placed within the context of Marx's reception in Latin American theological and religious circles, especially in relation to the position of Hugo Assmann. The review of Durkheim and Weber highlights categories that Torres will later use in his concrete interpretation of the Latin American and the Argentinean Church. But it is especially in his study of Antonio Gramsci that Torres establishes the horizons of his analysis. Gramsci's concept of hegemony in reference to the state and his concept of "intellectuals" with respect to the church is not surprising given that, at the beginning of this century the situation in Italy, like in no other European country, including Spain, had . . .

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