08610 - Sociology of Religions

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Throughout the course students are expected to acquire a general knowledge of the most relevant topics, theories and authors in sociology of religion. They are aware of current facts and trends concerning world religions. They will learn and discuss concepts and categories for a sociologically oriented analysis of religious phenomena in contemporary societies, with a special focus on religious pluralism.

Course contents

The programme is divided into two parts. In the first one we discuss classical and recent theoretical approaches to the role of religions in modern societies. The second one focuses on current trends in world religions, particularly in contexts of conflict and change.


First part: Theoretical approaches

1) The forerunners of the sociology of religion: Comte, Tocqueville, and Feuerbach.

2) Religion as ideology: Marx and Engels.

3) Religion according to Max Weber: social differentiation, religious groups, and the disenchantment of the world.

4) Religion as function: Durkheim and the Durkheimian tradition.

5) Theories of secularisation and pluralism: privatization, individualization, denominationalism, religious market.

6) The paradigm of secularisation under challenge: the return of religions in the public sphere, new spiritualities, and post-colonial critiques.


Second part: Religions in contemporary societies

7) Gender and religions.

8) Religious fundamentalisms.

9) New religious movements.

10) The rise of evangelical, pentecostal and charismatic churches.

11) Demographic trends in world religions.

12) The globalization of religions: diasporas and transnational religions.

13) The social commitment of faith-based organizations.

14) Religions and political dissent.


The syllabus is available at https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/isacco.turina/contenuti-utili/871f9dff

The texts of each unit will be uploaded some days before their scheduled discussion.

Teaching methods

Each lesson is divided into a first part of introduction by the teacher and a second part of discussion of the texts.

Assessment methods

Each student submits an original paper (about 10-20 pages long) on a relevant topic in the sociology of religion. The work should start with a review of the literature and move on to a critical assessment of the issue at stake. Some guidelines on how to write the paper are available (in Italian) at https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/isacco.turina/contenuti-utili/983d4315

Office hours

See the website of Isacco Turina