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Religion in American Life: A Sociological Approach

This course introduces the tools and concepts central to the sociological study of religion. We ask what religion is, how it is present and influential in contemporary American public and private life, and how the boundaries of public and private are constructed and contested in relation to religion. Specific attention is devoted to people’s religious practices, religious communities, and the identities people develop through their religious traditions. Central to this course are a series of assignments that ask you to select a particular religious tradition and map its contours, examine how its practitioners are involved in public life, and learn about practitioners’ religious identities and communities in the United States. Readings, lectures, and course discussions are drawn from the range of religious traditions practiced in the United States.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Wendy Cadge

Bowdoin College

Private College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, Sociology

Buddhism, General Comparative Traditions, Judaism, Protestant
Religous Tradition

Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Immigration/Refugees, Politics/Law/Government, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Nationalism/War/Civil Religion

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