A Cultural Sociology of Religion: New Directions

Penny Edgell

University of Minnesota

August 2012

Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 38, pp. 247-265, 2012

In this article, I review three contemporary streams of scholarship that are revitalizing the cultural analysis of religion, an approach that dates to the discipline's founding. Research from an institutional field perspective focuses on the institutions that shape religious belief, practice, and mobilization. Work on lived religion, including neo-Durkheimian approaches, focuses on religious experience and contested practices of sacralization. Scholarship on religious cultural tools and symbolic boundaries analyzes religion as symbolic legitimation. These three approaches avoid serious problems associated with both market and secularization accounts, in part because of the way they conceptualize religious authority and religious identity, and in part because of their broader scope of inquiry. In the conclusion, I combine the insights from these approaches to articulate a promising agenda for future research, offering a set of focus questions that are relevant to both classical and contemporary concerns about religion's role in modern societies.

Accepted Paper Series

Not Available For Download

Date posted: July 16, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Edgell, Penny, A Cultural Sociology of Religion: New Directions (August 2012). Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 38, pp. 247-265, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2106276 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-071811-145424

Contact Information

Penny Edgell (Contact Author)
University of Minnesota ( email )
110 Wulling Hall, 86 Pleasant St, S.E.
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
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