Comparative–Historical Methods

By and large, in sociology of religion, one does not come across work specifically devoted to methods in general—let alone comparative–historical methods in particular (for an exception, see Part B in the 2009 Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion). The reason is that methods (comparative–historical as well as other types), in principle, should be no different in their application to the study of religion than in other social-scientific specialties. Practically, methodological considerations are related to disciplinary conventions and trends that intersect with the orientation, scope, and directions of the field.

Max Weber’s sociohistorical interpretation of religion is the traditional entry point in historically oriented scholarship, but over the post–World War II period, the largely U.S.-based comparative–historical sociology has been interested in themes other than ...

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