Sociology Today; Problems and Prospects

By Robert K. Merton; Leonard Broom et al. | Go to book overview

6
The Sociology of Religion 1

CHARLES Y. GLOCK University of California, Berkeley

S ociological inquiry into religion has had a checkered career. At times, it has been central to the most important work being done in sociology,2e.g., the golden era of Troeltsch, Weber, and Durkheim at the turn of the century. At other times, notably during the period between World Wars I and II, religion has apparently been considered too insignificant a social force to warrant serious attention. The undulations in sociological interest in religion have not been conducive to the development of a systematic body of knowledge about religion's place in society. Rather, they have produced a heterogeneous combina-

____________________
1
An earlier version of this paper was read at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Society, August 1957, and was prepared while the author was on the staff of Columbia University. The author is indebted to Allan Eister, Joseph Fichter, Samuel Z. Klausner, William Petersen, Philip Rieff, and Guy E. Swanson for their constructive criticism of the manuscript and to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences for the opportunity to complete this revision.
2
See especially E. Troeltsch, The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches, Macmillan, 1931, 2 vols.; Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Scribner's, 1930; and Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1915.

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