This introductory text explores the historical and contemporary relevance of religion to social life, through an examination of practice and belief. Author Hunt reconsiders how theories and concepts are lived at the level of selfhood and cultural identity, through religious and spiritual belief. At the same time he looks at contemporary changes in religious life and how these are impacted by socialization, institutional belonging, and belief, and at the significance of class, gender, age and ethnicity. Individual chapters cover a range of issues, such as:
- religion, identity and community
- secularization and pluralism
- traditional Christianity: change and continuity
- globalization and the global context
- religion and ethnicity.
The text challenges much current sociological thought and deals with contemporary Christianity, a range of world faiths and new and developing expressions of religion and spirituality. With tables and diagrams to illustrate key points and trends, it provides an accessible and captivating introduction to the sociology of religion.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Contemporary Religion: changing definitions 2. Postmodernist Perspectives: the yet but not yet 3. Rationalist choice theory and its discontents 4. The context of everyday religion 5. Demographic variables: continuity and change 6. From ‘church’ to ‘choice’: transformations in contemporary Christianity 7. Faiths of certainty: fundamentalism and the religions of ethnic minorities 8. The rise and fall of the New Religious Movements 9. The New Age, self-spiritualities and quasi-religions Conclusion: the religious and the sacred in everyday life
Stephen Hunt is a Reader in Sociology and lecturer at the University of the West of England. He has written extensively on the topics of contemporary Christianity and New Religious Movements. His publications include The Alpha Initiative: Evangelism in the Post-Christian Era (Ashgate, 2004), Alternative Religion: A Sociological Introduction ( Ashgate, 2003) and Religion in the West: A Sociological Perspective (MacMillan, 2001).
'This book is impressive for its scope and confidence... [it] makes better sense of the contemporary religious field than its rivals.' - Times Higher Education Supplement
'For anyone interested in a sound and well-paced presentation and assesment of leading theories and important empirical findings generated by the top sociologists of religion today, this volume is highly recommended.' - Journal of Contemporary Religion