chapter  7
21 Pages

Developments in the sociology of religion

WithJames A. Beckford

This chapter presents that the last decade of the twentieth century, which has seen an acceleration of the process of rapprochement between the study of religion and other fields of sociology. It focuses on applications of rational choice theory and on the notion of the 'restructuring of religion'. Disputes about the definition of religion are a constant feature of attempts to account for religious phenomena in sociological terms. A concern with the gendered aspects of new religious movements (NRMs) has begun to burgeon. Evidence of a rapprochement between the sociology of religion and mainstream sociology is emerging from studies of identity, the body, gender and globalization. The chapter aims to chart the latest developments of critical thinking about the notion of secularization. Just as the sociology of religion has always had an implicit interest in human bodies as sites of transcendent experiences and as objects of transformative rituals, so it has also had a longstanding, if slight, concern with emotions.