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the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols

The Sacred Canopy

Written by Peter Berger - argued that religious pluralism would inevitably lead to secularization

Secularization Myths

Religious decline, past piety, failure to Christianize, religion adn science, eastern revivals, other religions

Religious Economies Model

comes out of the Rational Choice Theory; explains competitive religious markets; accounts for increased religious participation

Supernatural Rewards

Benefits that cannot be explained with reference to real world issues

Supernatural Compensators

Supernatural explanations that serve in place of actual rewards

Church/Sect Theory

Sect Characteristics: usually the product of a schism, sees itself not as a new religious body, formation is more likely to happen in a tolerant society, formation increases in times of hardship

Religion (according to sociologists)

religions is a group phenomenon; a socially organized and patterned set of beliefs and practices that concern ultimate meaning and assumed existence of the supernatural


social, membership by birth, link to political structure, formal, bureaucratic, formal training for leaders, few demands on members ex. Christian Church


no formal link to political structures, respectable but no official power, varieties and tolerance, widespread membership and longevity ex. Protestant Church, Orthodox Church


Conscious acceptance, small groups, broken off from denominations; typically a doctrinal dispute, require intense loyalty and commitment ex. Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses


small, secretive, new or significantly different religion,

Smile Durkheim and Religion

sough to locate the essential and permanent features of religion, qualities which would exist in all religions

Karl Marx and Religion

false consciousness, the opiate of the masses, allows ruling class to stay in power

Max Weber and Religion

important because of the role it plays in social change, particularly the development of Western capitalism -- Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

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