SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION SYLLABUS
OFFICE HOURS AND INDIVIDUAL ASSISTANCE
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I expect you to attend class regularly. Attendance will be taken during each class. If you have not arrived by the beginning of class, you may be counted absent. Because I think that regular attendance is important for the learning process, I offer a reward for regular attendance and discourage non-attendance. Through the attendance policy you can can either earn or lose points on your final course average.
The scale of attendance point adjustments is as follows:
Attendance is taken twice in the evening section of the course. Missing the entire session counts as two absences, and missing either half of the class counts as one absence. Therefore, you may miss two complete class sessions or parts of several sessions without penalty. In the morning section of the course, each class meeting counts as one absence.
If you encounter unusual problems in maintaining regular attendance, you are responsible for letting me know so that I can respond appropriately. In cases where you are legitimately unable to attend a particular class, you may receive an excused absence that will not be counted in attendance point policy.
CLASS DECORUM (House Rules) (House Rules)
1. If you arrive after class has begun, you will wait to be admitted (usually about ten minutes after class begins).
All reading assignments will be drawn from the text and online materials. The attached
course organization guide provides a
listing of the organizational format of the course, the issues which
will be covered in each of the major segments
of the course, reading assignments for each course segment, and
the placement of examinations. Reading
assignments will be made in class each week for the following week
and posted on the web site. Longer term reading assignments can be obtained
from the course organization guide. Additional assignments will be made
for material contained on the course web site as indicated in the “Course
Web Site” section below.
COURSE WEB SITE
I have placed the overheads used in lectures and sample questions
for each of the four exams on the course
web site. Weekly class assignments and announcements of upcoming
exams will be posted on the web site on a
regular basis. There are also links to web sites and material drawn
from those sites that are related to topics covered in class. I will assign
certain of these materials along with normal text reading assignments.
Since web based materials are constantly changing, assignments of these
materials will be made on a weekly basis. These various resources are very
important to successful completion of the course. The web site address
is as follows:
COURSE EXAMINATIONS AND GRADING
If you know that you cannot be present on the date and time of the final test, please withdraw from the course.
Please remember to bring #2 pencils to all test sessions!
This is a survey course in the sociology of religion. The overall
objective of the course is to examine religion as a
social form from a sociological perspective. In order to do this
we will first explore how sociologists approach
religion and contrast this approach to those of religious believers
as well as other social science disciplines. Next
we will examine some of the basic social components of religion,
the social material out of which religion is
fashioned socially. Building upon this discussion, we shall then
consider how these various components are organized in different kinds
of religious groups and in different social locations. Examination of these
issues will constitute the segment of the course. In the second segment
of the course, we will examine a number of different kinds of religious
organization, both conventional forms of religious organization (churches)
and oppositional religious organization (movements). Our objective will
be to identify the social conditions under which these alternative kinds
of religious organization emerge and how these kinds of organization are
connected to the social locations in which they are created and sustained.
Each of the course section headings below contains a description of that
section of the course relates to the overall course objective.
SECTION I: PERSPECTIVES ON RELIGION
The objective of the "Perspectives on Religion" section of the course is to identify what constitutes a sociological perspective on religion. What is religion from a sociological perspective? There are a number of different perspectives on religion, and there are important differences among them. One of the most important differences occurs between the way committed believers and social scientists approach religion. Since this is a social science course, it is important to establish the distinctive nature of the social science approach, its strengths, and its limitations. We will examine the way that anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists approach and define religion and the differences between religion and other ways of knowing.
1. Roberts, Chapter 1, pp. 3-25, "What Do We Mean by the Term Religion?"
SECTION II: THE RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
The objective of "The Religious Experience" section of the course is to identify the central elements of religious experience. What are the core social components of religious experience from a sociological perspective? We will focus on two elements of religious experience, myth and ritual. What is it that distinguishes myth and ritual from other social forms and why are these forms so central to religion? We will use two of the most important forms of religious experience, conversion and symbolic healing, to illustrate these processes.
1. Roberts, Chapter 4, pp. 69-94, "Religious Experience, Symbol Systems, and World Views”
SECTION III: THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
The objective of "The Beginnings of Religious Organizations" section of the course is to offer a sociological interpretation of the organizational origin, development, and dilemmas of religion. How do religious organizations emerge and develop? From a sociological perspective, religion is more than beliefs and more than individual practice, it is expressed through some social form. We will a model of religious organization development and illustrate different possible outcomes for religious groups.
1. Roberts, Chapter 6, pp. 161-180, "Emergence and Viability of Religious Movements: Mobilization of Resources and Plausibility of the World View"
SECTION IV: THE PLACE OF RELIGION IN THE SOCIAL ORDER
The objective of the "The Place of Religion in the Social Order" section of the course is to identify major sources of social division along religious lines. Why are there so many types of religious belief, practice, and organization, and how are they patterned socially? The primary focus in this section of the course is on the relationship between religion and social class. We will also examine two major sociological perspectives on religion, consensus and conflict approaches, through which the place of religion in the social order is understood. These two perspectives yield very different understandings of the role of religion in the social order.
1. Roberts, Chapter 9, pp. 201-218, "Religion and Social Stratification: Interactive Processes"
SECTION V: THE DIVERSITY OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION AND EXPRESSION
This section of the course constitutes the beginning of the "second half" of the course. The first section of the course was devoted to discussion of various elements or religion from a sociological perspective and the way in which religious groups are formed and developed. For the remainder of the course we will be examining the spectrum of established religious groups, from liberal to conservative. In order to set the stage for a discussion of the major differences in religious organization across the social order, we will first develop a typology of religious organizations and of the kind of social locations in which each occurs. The objective of the “Religious Organizations" section of the course is to begin an examination of the patterning of religious organized in different social locations. In this case, what are the distinguishing characteristics of different religious organizations and how can we account for them sociologically?
1. Roberts, Chapter 8, pp. 176-198, "Analysis of Religious Groups and Organizations"
SECTION VI: ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS IN RELIGION
The objective of the "Issues and Developments" section of the course is to examine issues that have produced conflict within and between religious organizations through American history and new developments in religious organization. With respect to conflicts, Race and gender have been two major sources of division through American history. More recently, abusive practices by religious leaders and organizations have become a major social issue.With respect to new developments, technological innovation and global organization have both reshaped religious organization and practice in a variety of ways.
1. Roberts, Chapter 13, pp. 306-328, "Secularization: Religion in Decline or in Reformation?”
FOURTH (FINAL) EXAMINATION
The final examination is scheduled for the time listed in the final exam schedule