RAAC IUPUI > Search Resources > Sociology of Religion

Sociology of Religion

In this course we will approach religion as a purely social phenomenon. This should not be construed as an ontological statement about religion, but merely a statement about the methodological perspective that social scientists typically employ. Using the perspectives and methods of a sociologist, we will examine the common social dimensions of all religions including moral definitions, group membership and dynamics, prescribed ritual practices, and the life-cycle of religious institutions. We will survey the various attempts at a sociological definition of religion and also examine the major theoretical contributions to the field such as those of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. We discuss the relationship between religion and modes of both vertical stratification (e.g., race, class, and gender) and horizontal differentiation (e.g., sects, NRMs, and denominations) in the United States. We will also study the more recent debates between secularization theorists and religious-market theorists. Lastly, we will survey the sociological dimensions of six major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Samuel Perry

University of Chicago

Private College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, Political Science, Sociology

General Comparative Traditions
Religous Tradition

Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity

Link to Resource