Religion & Society (SSP171/REL171)

This course offers an introduction to the sociology of religion.  We will begin by discussing classical approaches to defining religion and studying its role in society.  We will then answer three critical questions about religion.  First, what do religious beliefs and practices look like in the United States?  Second, how does religious change take place?  Third, what effects does religion have?  We will explore each of these questions at the level of society, at the level of organizations within society, and at the level of individuals.

Throughout the course the emphasis will be on emerging themes and current research in the study of religion.  Doing so will bring us to consider the changing religious landscape of the United States, religious conversion, different kinds of religious practice and authority, secularization, and religion in the public arena.  We will look at specific new research that examines things such as Jewish-Christian intermarriage, religion and teenage sexuality, the religiosity of college students, the role of religion in shaping post-9/11 attitudes, conflict over homosexuality in Methodist churches, feminism in the Catholic church, and rituals within an African-American church.

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