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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Religion – 03/03/2011 – Week 7
- Classical sociologists are not so much concerned with the truth of falsehood of religion, but of
the social implications and forces of religions
- What impact do the religious beliefs of large groups of people on society and social change?
Definition of the Situation: What people believe or define as truth produces real consequences (Thomas
Cheddar Cheese Cult: Believe the moon is made of cheddar cheese. Every full moon they would meet in
a farmers field outside of town and each cheese all night because cheese was believed to grant ever lasting
life. Sociologists study this and its implications and consequences.
Leon Festinger (“When Prophecy Fails) studied a cult that believed on the certain date a spaceship would
appear to remove the believers in to an everlasting life in space. What happened when the shit didnt

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appear was that their belief became more intense.
Measuring religion can be difficult (attendance can be based on other reasons than the religious itself, and
questions can be value laden)
Religiosity: attempts to measure the depth of religious commitment (in a research situation). Asking how
much ones religion effects or takes a part of their everyday life. Compulsivity (like in children) is
measured. Opportunity (older people have more opportunity). Need (some need beliefs more than
others). Learning.
One of the best predictors of religious affiliation is the religious affiliation of ones parents.
- Relative decline in the importance of the supernatural and the sacred
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