Christiano, Kevin J., with William H. Swatos Jr. and Peter Kivisto. Sociology of Religion: Contemporary Developments / Edition 3. 2015. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
ISBN-13: 9781442216921. (The 3rd edition is strongly preferred, especially for Assignment #2
In a reflective essay of 3-5 pages, and using the Christiano text, Lesson 2 and online readings, your Meet the Believers (MTB) exercise to date, and any other credible and authoritative sources you might choose, please address the following questions in depth:
Why does religion exist for society as a whole, and what is its relevance to the modern world?
What are FIVE of the most common theoretical approaches used in the scientific study of religion, as discussed in Christiano’s 3rd edition and/or Lesson 2? Please describe these in detail.
How do we know—or at least try to know—that what we have observed as religious scholars is true? How can the research methods we use help us accomplish our goal of knowing? Please name/describe THREE common and specific methods in detail.
Please note: All of you who have read both Lesson 2 and the Christiano chapters have no doubt observed and correctly noted that there are many more than 5 theories and 3 methods used in the sociology of religion. Your task in Assignment 2 is to name and describe 5 of the most common theories and 3 of the most common methods. Since it would be factually incorrect to indicate that there are ONLY 5 theories and 3 methods EVER used in scientifically studying religion, which could result in reduced points, I highly recommend that you don’t make that statement. Just FYI. 🙂
Also, remember the assignment is to discuss COMMONLY USED theories and methods. So discussing any theory among your five “common theories” that is specifically mentioned in our textbook or lesson reading as currently discredited–and hence is NOT commonly used–will not receive points. Of course, if you want to briefly mention any such theory as discredited and discuss 5 others in depth that ARE common, that’s up to you.
Please also keep in mind that there is a VERY good reason experiments are NOT discussed in either Lesson 2 or in Christiano as a common method in the sociology of religion. Since there are distinct ethical concerns with using experiments in religious research, they are actually quite rare in this field. So again, just FYI, you should probably NOT include experiments among your 3 common methods. However, if you want to tell me what you know about experiments AND discuss 3 OTHER methods that ARE common in religious research, that is fine.
Finally, as before: Please also note that you should clearly distinguish between research theories and methods as you write your assignments. Papers that confuse theory and method will need to be rewritten to receive credit. As a refresher, please feel free to refer to the following links if needed:
Understanding social theory (with three common social theories given): https://cnx.org/contents/AgQDEnLI@13.6:QMRfI2p1@13/1-3-Theoretical-Perspectives
Understanding the scientific method: https://cnx.org/contents/AgQDEnLI@13.6:uu5Nth4o@11/2-1-Approaches-to-Sociological-Research#42376
Understanding research methods: https://cnx.org/contents/AgQDEnLI@13.6:5y6RWnGd@16/2-2-Research-Methods