1st Edition

Hans Mol and the Sociology of Religion

By Adam J. Powell Copyright 2017
    134 Pages
    by Routledge

    134 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Hans Mol was born in the Netherlands during the 1920s. His imprisonment by the Gestapo during World War II began a long intellectual journey, exploring the role of religion in society. His work on the sociology of religion throughout the 20th and 21st Century is distinctive in its quest for both methodological and existential balance

    Part One of this book includes a brief outline of Mol’s most influential theory as originally explicated in Identity and the Sacred (1976). This is followed by a look at the initial reception of that theory in relation to the competing concepts of Mol’s contemporaries. Part Two is comprised of four previously-unpublished essays written by Mol during the 70s and 80s. Covering topics from evolution to evangelicalism, the papers display the sweeping ambition of this sociologist as well as the tone and contours of his intellectual articulation. In the Postscript this volume concludes with select transcripts of interviews conducted between Adam Powell and Hans Mol during the Spring of 2012.

    This volume of Mol’s work will be of keen interest to academics and students with an interest in the sociology of religion post-World War II and the development of contemporary Christian theology.


    One: Religion as Process: Introducing Identity Theory

    Two: Function or Fallacy: Reconsidering Identity Theory



    Three: Introduction to Appraisal and Application - Hans Mol

    Four: Evolutionary Origins of Authority and Wholeness - Hans Mol

    Five: Consciousness, Identity and Religion - Hans Mol

    Six: The Social Effect of Conservative/Evangelical Religion - Hans Mol

    Postscript: An Interview with Hans Mol


    Adam J. Powell is COFUND Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, UK. He has presented numerous papers and lectures on the sociological theories of Hans Mol and has previously published an edited collection on Hans Mol’s work entitled Sacred Selves, Sacred Settings (2015).

    ‘This book offers the possibility of a detailed knowledge about an eminent scholar like Hans Mol, a great specialist on the topic of "identity and religion" which is a key problem in the contemporary socio-religious global situation.’

    Roberto Cipriani, Senior and Emeritus Professor at Roma Tre University, Italy & Former President of the ISA Research Committee ‘Sociology of Religion’.

    ‘Identity demands ever increased attention in today's interdisciplinary world and here Adam Powell doubly illuminates this dynamic human process. He not only returns Hans Mol's creative formulation of identity-sacralization to focused attention within theories of religion, but also provides an astutely crisp sociological account of identity theories at large. Sociologists, anthropologists, theologians and religious studies colleagues will enjoy this book a great deal.’

    Douglas J. Davies, Professor in the Study of Religion at Durham University, UK & Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

    ‘In this admirably thoughtful study, A. J. Powell has provided a timely reminder of the achievement recorded by Hans Mol, whose Identity and the Sacred (1976) left a notable imprint on debate among specialists in both the sociology and theory of religion during the later decades of the last century. Dr. Powell contends, rightly, that Mol has been an underappreciated figure, too readily depicted as "yet another functionalist" at a time when his dialectical conception of religion as the "sacralization of identity" offered elements of originality more evident and discernible today—in newer light cast by current shifts in theory and criticism.

    Mol has remained steadily productive over his many years, and fully half of the volume consists of four of his previously unpublished papers, offering a convenient occasion to measure the assessments made by Powell as author agains