Sociology of Religion

The sociology of religion uses the tools and methods of social science to understand 1) the nature of religious belief and practice and its implications for individual and social behavior, 2) the ways in which religious ideas, subcultures, and organizations influence many other aspects of society (for example, gender, sexuality, demography, family, politics, social class, race, crime, law, etc.) and 3) the ways in which these other aspects of society act back on religion (e.g., the religious beliefs and practices of individuals, the rise and decline of different kinds of religious groups, and the changing position and influence of religion in different societies).

Our faculty draw on a mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches to study a diverse range of topics. A sampling of these topics currently includes religion in East Asia (our department houses the Center on Religion and Chinese Society and the Review of Religion and Chinese Society), immigrant religion, religious conversion as a way of illuminating the nature of human identity and the connections of human identity to cultural practice and social relationships, and the ways that the religious composition of geographic areas (the types of religions and non-religion found in different cities, counties, states, and countries) influences local subcultures.

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