Faculty Publications

Title

Sociology dismissing religion? the presentation of religious change in introductory sociology textbooks

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Religion, Religous change, Religous economies, Secularization, Sociology

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Sociologist

Volume

38

Issue

1

First Page

78

Last Page

98

Abstract

This paper explores whether the field of sociology harbors a dismissive attitude towards religion. Specifically it examines whether introductory sociology textbooks present the classic secularization theory over the more recent religious economies explanation of religious change. The classical secularization thesis suggests that religion is declining in importance in modern societies and may disappear completely. The religious economies perspective proposes that religion has actually become more influential and dynamic over time. While both theories are well represented in the sociology of religion literature, we explore whether generalist sociology textbooks reflect this reality. This article provides a content analysis of 31 introductory sociology textbooks published between 2003 and 2006. We assess the presence and promotion of the above theories in these textbooks. Our analysis reveals that 20 (65%) of the 31 textbooks in our study present only secularization theory, while seven (23%) of the textbooks cover both secularization theory and religious economies theory. We assess the ramifications of such a lopsided arrangement and conclude by encouraging a more open dialogue on this issue. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Original Publication Date

3-1-2007

DOI of published version

10.1007/s12108-007-9000-3

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