Sociology of Religion
Sociology of Religion
Religion is a complex phenomenon and one which has influenced man in varying degree throughout his history. Like all phenomena, religion can be studied in any number of ways, depending upon the type of information in which one is interested. This book is an effort to explore one aspect of religion in one particular way. It uses symbolic interactionist theory and the results of relevant empirical research for the study of the social aspect of religion.
One of the basic premises of the text is that religion exists in a social setting which of necessity exerts an influence upon the religion or religions which form part of it. Religion does not exist in isolation; therefore it cannot be viewed as something independent of, and external to, man--as something imposed upon him. Rather, it is always part of an ongoing, dynamic social system in which it influences and is influenced by other social factors. Interaction is a key concept in our study. The interaction of religion in society and culture is seen as being primarily symbolic interaction; exploring the manner in which man uses symbols, therefore, will contribute to our understanding of his religious behavior.
To those primarily concerned with the supernatural aspects of religion such an approach may be of only limited interest. To those interested in the social correlates of religious behavior, however, it can be productive of meaningful and stimulating insights. This study attempts to provide these in a manner which will make them understandable and theoretically significant and which, it is hoped, will contribute to the general body of sociological knowledge.
The book is written from the point of view of the social scientist. It is recognized, however, that science is capable of providing only certain types of answers about religious behavior--or any behavior, for that matter--and it is to the seeking after sociological answers that the present work is restricted.
Religion does not exist in isolation, nor do authors: Without social interaction this book would never have been written. My interest in this . . .