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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Feb. 28, 2013.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ivanka Knezevic

Sociology and religion - Religious beliefs are not falsifiable: they can be neither falsified nor confirmed by empirical evidence. - For this reason, sociologists are not concerned with the truth-value of religious beliefs. - Foci: individual and group differences in religiosity, individual and social causes and consequences of religiosity, religious organizations. Religion: sociological definitions and political-legal significance - Substantive definition: a system of beliefs with a supernatural referent, and rituals associated with those beliefs. - Civil religion: a system of attitudes with social or political referent, and rituals associated with these attitudes. - Functional definition: social solidarity (e.g. Bellah). - Religion also causes conflict. - Beaman focuses on privileged position of religion (in comparison to other culture phenomena; 2013 Office of Religious Freedom), based on: 1. Religious organizations’ access to political power (pre-modern and modern societies); 2. Cultural distinction between sacred and profane (pre-modern and modern societies); 3. Legal protection of religious freedom (modern societies). Religiosity - Importance of religion to an individual. - Four dimensions: belief, practice (Beaman: participation), experience, and knowledge. - Religiosity of Canadians (Bibby. 2003): - Believe in God (~80%) - Maintain that there is life after death (~70%) - Pray privately at least once a month (~60%) - Think they have experienced God (~50%) - Are committed to a religion (~50%) - Have basic religious knowledge (~40%) 1 Individual causes of religiosity - Reflection: religious commitment develops in people who seek to give meaning to their lives. - However, many Canadians who think about life’s “big questions” are not religious and seek meaning in philosophy or social activism. - Socialization: most regular attendants attended religious services as children. - Only 1/3 of Canadians whose parents attended are themselves attending. - Deprivation: religion as compensation (Marx). - In Canada, no strong relationship between class/SES/education and religious commitment. Strong relationship between gender, age and religious commitment. Workforce participation is negatively associated with religious commitment. - Why? Women are more religious than men. Women who work as homemakers are more religious than women who are in the workforce. Social causes of religiosity in modern societies - Secularization: decline in social significance of religion. - Measures: participation in organized religion, institutional importance of religion, individual religiosity. - Secularization thesis: the level of religious commitment declines with industrialization because religious explanations are replaced by rationalism and scientific knowledge. - Persistence thesis
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