A Future for Religion? New Paradigms for Social Analysis

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Edited by: William H. Swatos

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  • Other Recent Volumes in the Sage Focus Editions

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    • A Future for Religion? William H. Swatos, Jr.
    • Researching Sensitive Topics Claire M. Renzetti and Raymond M. Lee

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    Acknowledgments

    This book owes its greatest debt to the authors of the individual chapters. While each author is an expert in the field upon which he or she has written and each has previously written in his or her area extensively, the chapters as they stand here were written for this book with the specific intention of providing in each a survey, substantive contribution, and concrete agenda for future research.

    The book also owes a debt to Mitch Allen of Sage Publications, who saw the need for it and encouraged me to take it on. I am happy he did, and I hope the product serves well the purpose for which it was intended within the sociology of religion.

    We all owe at least two debts to the Association for the Sociology of Religion: first, because it brought us together; second, because it has provided me with the institutional resources to pursue the project comfortably. In this regard, I especially want to thank Jason Stevenson, who has been my mentor in computerization; Giles and Eric Swatos, who have responded to cries for help when Jason was not around to get me out of technological jams; Priscilla Swatos, who makes library searches relatively painless; and Melinda Rosales, who has a marvelous sense of humor and perspective while she moves papers from one stage of the production process to another.

    Introduction

    The sociology of religion is facing a double-barreled identity crisis. The first and more long-standing concern centers on the relationship of the subdiscipline to general or mainstream sociological theory and research—what Jim Beckford (1985) has termed “the insulation and isolation of the sociology of religion.” This topic recurs in symposia and addresses with considerable regularity when sociologists of religion gather; and indeed, that it occurs at all is probably the best evidence that there is some truth to the perception. But a second challenge looms increasingly prominently; namely, that mainstream sociology itself is experiencing a considerable assault within the hallowed halls of the academy, as several major universities eliminate departments or reduce their strength (see, e.g., Kantrowitz, 1992). The result could well be that in seeking greater prominence in the networks of general sociology, the sociology of religion might be further excluding itself from a wider public.

    This book is an attempt to reorient the sociology of religion to new paradigms in social scientific inquiry, reconsidering as we go timeworn assumptions about the sociological quiddity of religion—that which we are about in the sociology of religion. How did we come to this point? In his recent historical analysis of the sociology of religion from its inception in the heyday of industrial society to the present, Religion and Advanced Industrial Society, Beckford observes that although it is true that “religion” constituted an important category for practically all of the sociological forebears—Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Tocqueville, Comte, Simmel, Spencer, Martineau, the American founders, and on and on—religion was also mainly conceived negatively: The decline of religion was, for these sociologists, to be certainly observed, possibly lamented, possibly celebrated. Only in the work of someone like Talcott Parsons was the transvaluation of religion to be seen as a religiously creative venture, but one that also lacked a distinctive or “strong” claim for religion (see Beckford 1989, chaps. 13).

    Thus, a rather consistent theme was introduced into sociological lore, one that Jeffrey Hadden in his presidential address to the Southern Sociological Society in the late 1980s would rightly term a “doctrine more than a theory,” based on “presuppositions that… represent a taken-for-granted ideology in social science”—a belief system accepted, ironically, “on faith,” viz., the decline of religion or, at its mildest, the decline of what would generally be termed “traditional” religion (Hadden 1987, 588). This sociological dogma took different forms depending upon the specific theoretical perspective out of which it arose, but its ubiquity led to a “certainty” within sociology that the sociology of religion was studying a form of life in its death throes. Some sociologists of religion so accepted this funereal task that, when empirical data were proffered at variance from this position, these data were dismissed as peripheral residuals or even reinterpreted to argue that success actually proved failure.

    New religious movements, evangelical and charismatic Christians, Jewish and Islamic revivals, data from some of the American mainline churches, and rethought historical analyses have now, as Hadden, Beckford, and others have demonstrated, swamped simple secularization and privatization theories. “Modernity arouses expectations that it cannot satisfy without stimulating the religious imagination,” Danièle Hervieu-Léger notes (Hervieu-Léger 1990, S15); and one must either radically redefine “secularization,” as she does, to be “the process whereby religion organizes itself to meet the challenges left by modernity” or, as I have argued (Swatos 1989, 153), understand the concept as signaling “a paradigm shift of major proportions in ways of knowing how the world works, in which heretofore widely accepted epistemological assumptions are directly challenged by new experiences”—that is, “secularization” is primarily a concept for the sociology of knowledge, and only secondarily for the sociology of religion. Even Thomas Luckmann, who once popularized the phrase “invisible religion” (Luckmann 1967), now is willing to talk instead of “shrinking transcendence and expanding religion” (Luckmann 1990), which is not only more accurate but also exposes the underlying theological premises upon which the received sociological dogma has been based—namely, the intellectualized, rational high god of many generations of Western, Judeo-Christian academics, whose worldview was at considerable remove from the lived experience of the wider society of their own times, let alone that of ours.

    Crucial to continued sociological misunderstanding of religion is a focus on content abstracted from experience (i.e., on “beliefs” understood propositionally rather than existentially). Attempts to manipulate the content of religion miss the sociological point that form precedes content and that religion must be culturally relevant in form before its content will be heard. In the move from premodern, to modern, to postmodern cultures, the relevant cultural forms of religion have necessarily shifted. Religions that address the culture of the emotions within the complexity of postmodernity draw comparably more converts from the populace at large, while those that engage in theological revisionism draw a smaller and smaller, largely intellectualized, sector of the population. For this reason “new” theologies hardly do better than the old at addressing contemporary spiritual needs and may even exacerbate existing difficulties (e.g., feminist theologies). Mainline liberal denominations spend more and more time talking to themselves as they grow fewer and fewer in numbers, while pentecostal and “nondenominational” congregations flourish. In this respect there is a covariance between the assumptions of historic sociology of religion and the historic denominations that in many ways makes each the accomplice of the other in the cycle of defeat, to which mainstream sociology itself may also be a party (see Swatos 1981).

    The first professional meeting in the scientific study of religion that I attended as a new Ph.D. in sociology heralded the publication of the essay collection Beyond the Classics? (Glock and Hammond 1973). The book attempted to assay the degree to which the discipline had extended itself over at least a half-century from the core texts in the field. My reading of the essays led me to conclude “not much.” I see us involved in explications of a handful of works, which may be of genuine significance in themselves, but with only limited evaluation of whether they are advancing the field today or into the future. Though I value both historical sociology and the history of sociology, neither is necessarily adequately positioned to address current developments. Social science is not the application of timeless truths but the development of explanatory and predictive constructs that tell us how to go on in varying forms of human life. To that end theory and experience must enjoy relative “goodness of fit.” This in turn demands attentiveness to the life world—to the problematics that constitute existence in our time and their implications for the future. It is this viewpoint that underlies not only the question that this collection seeks to address but also the ways in which we try to answer it.

    Presences

    Because it is our intention to explore a variety of trends in social analysis that may contribute to renewal in the sociology of religion, the several chapters in the book make unique contributions. Thus there is not a single theoretical perspective or research methodology that underlies our work. Each chapter is a discrete unit that surveys existing literature, offers a substantive contribution, and yields concrete research agendas. The latter are particularly important as they move the book from critical reflection upon the state of the discipline to practical activities that will advance it. As editor, I have made a decision about the layout of chapters that seems to make good sense to me in considering the book as a whole; yet it should be the case that the chapters can be read valuably in almost any order and that any contribution can stand on its own. My guiding principles in arrangement were to move from relatively more structural topics to more cultural ones and from more theoretical to more applied pieces. In fact, however, all the essays have structural and cultural components and offer both theoretical and applied aspects.

    The opening chapter, by John Hannigan, looks at the possibilities for interfacing New Social Movement (NSM) theory and the sociology of religion. Historically, as Hannigan has shown in a previous article (1991), the subdisciplines of social movements and the sociology of religion have operated largely independently of each other, in spite of the similarities in their topics as sociological life forms. (As Roger O'Toole noted in a review article [1976], for example, there is a literature on political sects that has run largely parallel to, but apart from, church-sect theory in the sociology of religion.) With a substantive focus on movements surrounding environmentalism, Hannigan shows a variety of ways that NSM theory and concerns can interface with the sociology of religion to the enrichment of both. NSM approaches have the particular advantage of combining structural and cultural elements in social experience in new ways that transcend the either- or dichotomies of traditional functionalist-conflict debates in sociological theory and thus really do take us beyond the classics.

    It would be difficult to think of a phenomenon that caught Western students of religion more by surprise than the worldwide resurgence of religion—political religion, no less—that occurred with increasing visibility from the late 1970s onward. One major aspect of this apparent change was the movements that the media dubbed “fundamentalist.” While this term technically is applied accurately only within the history of Protestant Christianity, it has taken on a wider general usage to encompass a variety of movements on a global scale. Frank Lechner, in the second chapter, reflects on the significance of this occurrence and the kinds of research needed to assess its importance. He notes the important ways in which these fundamentalisms are distinctly modern and raises questions about their long-run impact upon belief and action patterns that are disinterestedly religious. In terms of world political stability and world peace in the coming decade, there may be no more salient area of concern than this, however, as a fulcrum for articulating conflicts.

    In the third chapter, then, Gene Schoenfeld uses a post-Marxist class analysis to interpret the varying significances given to religion among conflicting status groups. Developing upon his own prior work on religious militancy—a term that is often to be analytically preferred to “fundamentalism”—Schoenfeld shows how and why different aspects of religious worldviews can be adopted by ascending or retrenching status groups in expressing their demands vis-à-vis the dominant class in society. This gives rise, for example, to the inclusive militancy that most recently might be associated with something like the “Rainbow Coalition” of Jesse Jackson (ascending classes) versus the exclusive militancy of the Moral Majority (retrenching classes). The virtue of Schoenfeld's approach is to highlight the dimension of change in class analysis, a view that harks back in the sociology of religion to Max Weber's important observation in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1930) that it was the “rising classes” or parvenus that constituted the carriers of this new worldview. Static class analyses of both Marxian and functionalist types have failed to grasp adequately the change dimension in class relations.

    East Asia is certainly an important region for change in the modern world, and it presents largely untrod soil for the sociology of religion, most of whose concepts are derived from the European experience. Inasmuch as commentators on world affairs suggest that the focus, especially of the United States's interest, will shift in the coming decades from the Atlantic to the Pacific, this sector of the global political economy presents a challenge to analysts of culture. Joe Tamney has had extensive experience in this part of the world as a researcher and teacher in Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. From this work and an extensive literature review, he explores religious developments in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, giving particular attention to the status of Buddhism and Christianity. Elsewhere Joe has also written about the popularity of Islam in Indonesia (Tamney 1987), the largest Muslim country in the world. These insights could be usefully compared to media portraits of “fundamentalist” Islam in the Middle East.

    For many students of religion, the phrases Latin America and liberation theology have become synonymous. In his chapter, however, Ted Hewitt extends sociological assessment of the Roman Catholic social justice agenda beyond the well-known South American example of Brazil to include Canada and the United States. In so doing, he indicates how different national priorities have influenced the ways in which the hierarchies in these countries have responded to human need and structural inequality. The Roman Catholic case is instructive in this instance because it represents the only truly universal religious organization in Christendom. As such, it is uniquely placed to be the carrier of Christian priorities for social justice onto the global stage. Thus, studying Catholic justice agendas is not parochial; quite to the contrary, it is essentially world open. Put differently, if the Roman Catholic Church cannot “pull off” a justice agenda, there is not going to be an operative Christian social justice ministry in world society. The research priorities that Ted suggests, then, are important not merely for students of Catholicism narrowly conceived; rather, they are conditia sine qua non for the possibility of a religious program of global proportions.

    With the changes of focus from Eurocentrism to Latin America and the Pacific that inform the two prior chapters, Peter Kivisto's contribution reminds us that patterns of immigration to the United States and of immigrants among the United States population have changed dramatically over the past 25 years and in all likelihood will continue to be reflected in this population for the foreseeable future. Specifically, Asian immigrants are the United States's fastest growing ethnic peoples, and Hispanics are soon to become its largest ethnic segment. These peoples bring differences in religious orientations that will have important impacts on the way American pluralism shapes itself. There will be both an increasing variety of religious practices and patterns, and differences in organizational compositions. The once “solid” German-Irish Catholic Church that was the “American” Church will soon become a Hispanic Church, or else will lose a significant element of its market share in American demographics. Peter zeros in on a significant lacuna in sociology of religion research and suggests some ways to fill this void. Like social movements, ethnic studies has operated along parallel tracts with the sociology of religion in spite of the clear overlap in the actual lives of their subject groups.

    With Jim Spickard's chapter on religious experience we move farther toward the cultural pole in our reading. It is nothing short of shocking, if one thinks about it, that the sociology of religion has virtually ignored religious experience as a venue for research and theory. There is no question that the roots for this lie in the specific historical circumstances of the discipline's “founding fathers,” but for a field that is inherently caught up in what Peter Berger (1961) has termed “debunking,” one might expect that sociology could have been more quickly self-critical in this respect than it has been. Jim looks at the several ways religious experience has been treated in the social sciences (principally psychology) and then offers additional perspectives. He draws particularly upon his own research in several different religious traditions, including the ritual life underlying Native American sand painting, in an attempt to flesh out illustratively the frameworks he develops. His ideas for further research extend to more mainline traditions as well.

    The work of Danièle Hervieu-Léger remains largely unknown outside the French-speaking world. Fortunately, this is becoming increasingly less true, and there is much hope that the present chapter will give her work on religious emotion, one of the most salient aspects of religious experience, a far wider readership. Danièle's chapter is relatively as close as this book is going to get in considering the “secularization thesis” at any length. As she explores the interplay of religion and emotion, she demonstrates the complexity of determining what both religion and secularization are as they exist in the lives of acting subjects. Drawing particularly from her research on the charismatic movement, she indicates how religion organizes itself to meet the challenges of (post) modernity and why these are different from those of prior epochs. Religion may thus be said to be neither “in decline” nor “resurgent” as much as changing; and to comprehend these new forms, sociology must change its analytical paradigms. Old definitions do not help us understand new realities.

    The themes of experience and emotion, change and self-criticism are further enhanced by John Simpson's chapter assaying the absence of consideration of the body in sociology. Drawing particularly upon theoretical suggestions of Meredith McGuire and Brian Turner, Simpson explores the ways in which sociology has treated people as disembodied actors and how the category of the body may be employed to help us understand sociopolitical and socioreligious developments under postmodern or late capitalist conditions. He gives particular attention to strategies of healing (tying back to the two prior chapters) and to sexualities (tying forward to the next chapter). Inasmuch as virtually all religious rituals involve body performance and there is ever-increasing concern in contemporary culture with body issues, failure to pursue these themes in sociological approaches to religion can only result in caricatures of reality. A particularly helpful concept introduced in John's chapter is the label patric body, to denote the construction of the body within those contemporary religious traditions sometimes termed patriarchal by feminists. Building upon Bryan Turner's work (1984), John notes that in our era the term patriarchal is anachronistic, in that it refers to a mode of production that has long since disappeared, and thus is flawed as an analytical tool when applied in the contemporary setting.

    In an assessment of the status of the field of sociology of religion, Robbins and Robertson (1991) have indicated feminism as one of the significant dynamics that has had an impact on our work in the last decade. In her chapter, Mary Jo Neitz reviews many of the lines of inquiry that this larger sociopolitical development has generated in the field. I have placed her chapter toward the end of the book because her research agenda surveys from the feminist perspective many of the topics already introduced by the other authors. In a sense, then, she offers not only a set of feminist concerns but a feminist elaboration of other subject areas as well. This synthetic treatment should help readers see how the various topical threads can be woven together to develop a genuinely renewed sociology of religion. These issues can play into and out of one another in multiple directions. Were it not for the complexity such a format would have created in producing a single volume, each of the chapters could be an elaboration in this way in the face of the others.

    In my concluding chapter, I look particularly at sociology of religion as an applied discipline. This is not to say that the other chapters are not fruitful in this respect as well, but there is no question that application within sociology has achieved a new respectability after years of abuse at the hands of both abstract empiricists and grand theorists. At this stage in the discipline's history, it is important to recall some aspects of our origins too easily forgotten and to reassert the applied religious interests that were at the heart of much early sociological research. Religion was in many ways drummed out of sociology by apostles of “modernity”—a worldview that thought “science” could answer all human questions and meet all our desires. Nothing more than the current concerns of the environmental movement—-to tie the end of the book to its beginning—need be brought to bear as evidence to indicate how myopic this view was. Of course, hindsight always has an advantage, and criticism of our forebears makes only a limited contribution. The purpose of my chapter, then, is to indicate how the sociology of religion might reasonably be employed in the service of applied concerns to advance both human well-being and the stature of the discipline.

    Absences

    There are two major areas that are not covered in this book that some might expect should be: developments in Eastern Europe, and what have been termed New Religious Movements (NRMs) or cults. A word on each:

    Eastern Europe is not covered primarily because change there is occurring so rapidly that it is impossible to write with any accuracy about that situation. Surely it is potentially an important area for research, and I am aware of colleagues who are struggling to keep up with developments there (see, e.g., Nielsen 1992). Nevertheless, a chapter at this time would be purely speculative; indeed, its conclusions might be ludicrous even across the time elapsed from writing to publication.

    The issue with NRMs is a more philosophical one. It has two aspects: First, in spite of all the debate a small number of New Religious Movements have created, the fact is that worldwide five new religious groups appear every week (Marty 1991, 16). Thus, like “fundamentalism,” the issue of NRMs as it is portrayed in the media and a certain branch of “pop sociology” may well have an importance on paper far beyond any kind of representativeness in daily human experience. It is, furthermore, quite difficult to see how NRMs as a whole differ from Old Religious Movements (see Bromley and Shupe 1979; Shinn 1987). Second, the term cult has taken on a clearly pejorative labeling function that preeminently reflects the antireligious bias of the “old sociology” from which we hope to depart in this volume. In my view most studies of cults, as that term is used in popular literature, reflect either prurient interest or prejudice that we now need to move beyond. That there is a cultic dimension to all religion, I have no doubt, but we would probably do better at this point to look, with Jim Spickard, at religious experience(s) and stop labeling groups on the basis of pseudoscientific modes of evaluation that have outlasted their utility.

    References
    Beckford, J.A.1985. The insulation and isolation of the sociology of religion. Sociological Analysis46: 347–54. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3711150
    Beckford, J.A.. 1989. Religion and advanced industrial society. London: Unwin Hyman.
    Berger, P.L.1961. Invitation to sociology. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
    Bromley, D.G., and ShupeA.D.. 1979. The tnevnoc cult. Sociological Analysis40: 361–66. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3709964
    Glock, C.Y., and HammondP.E., eds. 1973. Beyond the classics?New York: Harper & Row.
    Hadden, J.K.1987. Toward desacralizing secularization theory. Social Forces65: 587–611.
    Hannigan, J.1991. Social movement theory and the sociology of religion. Sociological Analysis52: 311–31. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3710849
    Hervieu-Léger, D.1990. Religion and modernity in the French context. Sociological Analysis51: S15–25.
    Kantrowitz, B.1992. Sociology's lonely crowd. Newsweek, 3 Feb., 55.
    Luckmann, T.1967. The invisible religion. New York: Macmillan.
    Luckmann, T.1990. Shrinking transcendence, expanding religion?Sociological Analysis51: 127–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3710810
    Marty, M.E.1991. Never the same again. Sociological Analysis52: 13–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3710712
    Nielsen, D.A.1992. Sects, churches, and economic transformation in Russia. In Twentieth-century world religious movements in neo-Weberian perspective, edited by W.H.SwatosJr., 125–41. Lewiston, NY: Mellen.
    O'Toole, R.1976. Underground traditions in the study of sectarianism. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion15: 145–56.
    Robbins, T., and RobertsonR.. 1991. Studying religion today. Religion21: 319–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0048-721X%2891%2990035-O
    Shinn, L.D.1987. The dark lord. Philadelphia: Westminster.
    Swatos, W.H.Jr., 1981. Beyond denominationalism?Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion20: 217–27. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1385544
    Swatos, W.H.Jr.1989. Religious politics in global and comparative perspective. New York: Greenwood.
    Tamney, J.B.1987. Islam's popularity. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science15: 53–65. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/080382487X00055
    Turner, B.1984. The body and society. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Weber, M.1930. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. New York: Scribner.
  • About the Authors

    John A. Hannigan is Associate Professor of Sociology at Scarborough College of the University of Toronto. His chapter in this book completes a trilogy of essays on the relationship between social movements and religion. (The other two articles appeared in Sociological Analysis [1991] and the Review of Religious Research [1990].) His present research interests include the ideological and spiritual foundations of the American conservation movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the current conflict between farm groups and environmentalists over the economic and epistemological bases of agriculture.

    Danièle Hervieu-Léger, a native Parisian, is director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifíque, Groupe de Sociologíe des Religions, and teaches at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She is also editor of the Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions. Her long-term theoretical interests are the relationships between religion and modernity, particularly the recompositions of religious beliefs and practices and the shaping of socioreligious identities in advanced societies. She has written extensively about these topics, and especially about the evolution of French Catholicism from this point of view, in articles and in her books, Vers un Nouveau Christianisme? Introduction a la Sociologie du Christianisme Occidental and De l'Emotion en Religion (with F. Champion). She is now preparing a book about the function of the religious reference to tradition in rapidly changing sociocultural contexts.

    W. E. Hewitt is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario. He has written extensively on the relationship between religious ideology, social class, and social change in both North and South America. He is the author of Base Christian Communities and Social Change in Brazil, published in 1991. His articles have appeared in Comparative Politics, the Journal of Latin American Studies, the Journal of Developing Areas, Sociological Analysis, the Canadian Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and other periodicals.

    Peter Kivisto is Associate Professor of Sociology at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. His work on immigration and ethnicity includes Immigrant Socialists in the United States, The Ethnic Enigma, and American Immigrants and Their Generations. With Bill Swatos he has written Max Weber: A Bio-Bibliography. He is currently working on a synthetic sociological study of ethnicity in the United States, tentatively titled The American Polyphony.

    Frank J. Lechner is Associate Professor of Sociology at Emory University in Atlanta. His work deals with problems in sociological theory, the sociology of religion, and world-system analysis. His publications include “The Case Against Secularization: A Rebuttal” in Social Forces, and chapters in several collections, including Talcott Parsons: Theorist of Modernity, Religion and Global Order, Religious Politics in Global and Comparative Perspective, and Neofunctionalism.

    Mary Jo Neitz is a member of the sociology faculty and former director of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She has published a number of scholarly articles on women and religion, as well as Charisma and Community: A Study of Religion and Commitment Among the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Her current research interests center on women in neo-pagan religions.

    Eugen Schoenfeld fled his native Carpathia at the end of the Second World War, came to the United States on a scholarship from the Hillel Foundation, and ultimately completed his doctorate in sociology at Southern Illinois University. He has spent more than two decades at Georgia State University, as both Chairman and Professor of Sociology. In the past 10 years, his research interests have shifted from stratification to religion, and presently his research focuses on the relationship between religion and morality, particularly the impact religion has on people's views of justice, freedom, and love. His most recent articles have appeared in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the British Journal of Sociology, and a special issue of Sociological Focus on the sociology of morals, assembled under his editorial direction.

    John H. Simpson is Professor of Sociology and Chairman of the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto. He was educated at Seattle Pacific University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Stanford University. He is the author of research publications on religion and politics, globalization, and fundamentalism and postmodernity, among other topics, and a collaborator with John Hagan and A. R. Gillis in the development of the power-control theory of common delinquency. He has held various offices in the Association for the Sociology of Religion and the Religious Research Association and is a Fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

    James V. Spickard is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Redlands. He was previously Research Director at the Cultural Development Institute, and has taught at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology and at the College of Notre Dame. He has published articles in several journals, among them Sociological Analysis, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Religion;, his topics have included Mary Douglas's sociology of belief, liberation theology, Native American religion, and the new religions of Japan. His latest work is on the sociology of meditative experiences.

    William H. Swatos, Jr., is editor of Sociology of Religion (formerly Sociological Analysis), an official publication of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, and has served as Secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Religious Research Association. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and monographs. His most recent books include Time, Place, and Circumstance: Neo-Weberian Studies in Comparative Religious History and Religious Politics in Global and Comparative Perspective. He teaches a variety of undergraduate courses in sociology and philosophy. In 1989 the sociology department of the University of Kentucky, where he took his graduate training, honored him with its annual award and named him to its list of distinguished alumni.

    Joseph B. Tamney is Professor of Sociology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. His articles have appeared in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Review of Religious Research, Sociological Analysis, the Southeast Asian Journal of Social Sciences, and Asian Profile. With Riaz Hassan, he co-authored Religious Switching: A Study of Religious Mobility in Singapore. His most recent books are The Resilience of Christianity in the Modern World and American Society in the Buddhist Mirror.


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