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Sociology of Religion

In what ways do individuals experience a religious or spiritual dimension in their lives? What are the patterns to that experience in different faith traditions? How are those patterns different, and how are they similar? We will consider in greater detail the communal or congregational dimension of religion: How do religious communities of various kinds give shape to the religious experience of individuals? How do religious rituals construct the “spiritual self” or “religious self” that encounters God, the gods, Yahweh, Satan, the Spirit, Buddha, Jesus, Allah, etc.? We will consider the linguistic and symbolic dimensions of religion: Does it matter that we talk about and symbolize religious belie in various ways (for example, the various names of god listed above)? We will look at the social dimension of religion: On one hand, how does religion serve to reinforce and legitimate the current social order of a given society (say, America in the 1990s)? On the other hand, how does religion serve to reform or revolutionize a society?


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

Richard L. Wood

University of New Mexico

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, Sociology

Catholic, General Comparative Traditions, Indigenous, New Religious Movements, Other Traditions, Protestant
Religous Tradition


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