A collection of the themes that are important for today's sociology of religion... this volume is essential for anyone interested in religion's place in contemporary society - it answers many questions and raises many new ones The breadth of topics examined in this collection is evidence of James Beckford's many contributions to the sociology of religion and, more importantly, to advancing the argument that we cannot understand society---even presumably today's "secular" society - without some appreciation for the role of religion. A much deserved recognition. A fitting tribute to a distinguished career: this book is a celebration of James Beckford's lifelong endeavor to make religion central to social theory. An excellent collection of thoughtful and often innovative essays, from some of the best sociologists of religion, developing many of the important themes so masterfully treated in Jim Beckford's work. Chock full of helpful new insights; everyone in the sociology of religion will find something of interest and significance in this book. Befitting the career of James Beckford, this book contributes to a genuinely comparative sociology of religion
"The book shows how rapid social change gives rise to novel religious interpretations and how new religious movements, in turn, try to influence the process of change. This analysis is illustrated by studies of the advanced societies of North America and Europe, of Japan during the first phase of industrialization, and of countries and regions in the developing world. New religious movements are revealed as a normal aspect of social life and as critical indicators of social change. This is reflected in each movement's social composition, teachings, values, religious practices and organizational structures as well as their engagement in politics, business and their structuring of social relationships."--Publisher's description.
While religious forces are powerful in numerous societies, they have little or no significance for wide swaths of public or private life in other places. This book considers the classical roots of ideas about religion that dominated sociological ways of thinking about it for most of the twentieth century. Each chapter offers sound reasons for continuing to find theoretical inspiration and challenge in the sociological classics while also seeking ways of enhancing and extending their relevance to religion today.
"In their introduction to this Handbook, the editors affirm: 'Many sociologists have come to realise that it makes no sense now to omit religion from the repertoire of social scientific explanations of social life'. I wholeheartedly agree. I also suggest that this wide-ranging set of essays should become a starting-point for such enquiries. Each chapter is clear, comprehensive and well-structured - making the Handbook a real asset for all those engaged in the field." - Grace Davie, University of Exeter "Serious social scientists who care about making sense of the world can no longer ignore the fact that religious beliefs and practices are an important part of this world... This Handbook is a...
Leading scholars examine the growth of new religious movements or cults in the US and Europe over the last 50 years and state attempts to monitor and control them, debating the political, practical and ethical issues which arise.