THREE EUROPEAN SOCIOLOGIES OF RELIGION: BEYOND THE USUAL AGENDA OF THE DISCIPLINE
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The contemporary boom in the popularity of religion(s) and religiosity has led to new interest in their sociological study that has returned the sociology of religion to the heart of sociological research. In secular Europe alone, three new overviews of the discipline have appeared in 2006 and 2007, written by Grace Davie, I. Furseth and P. Repstad, and Z. R. Nespor and D. Luzny, all of which attempt to go beyond the traditional agenda of the discipline. This review article summarises the various attitudes of the respective authors and provides a general overview of their books. However, rather than evaluating them it tries to use the three books as a starting point for thinking of the discipline itself. Primarily, the author examines whether there is one single sociology of religion or not and stresses the multiplicity of 'national' approaches with regard to the state of religion in respective societies. Beyond the attention usually paid to the European-American division, and Davie's 'hybrid cases' of British, Canadian, German and Eastern European versions of the sociology of religion, which are also discussed, the author outlines the particularities of the French and Scandinavian approaches. The article then concerns itself with the various theoretical and methodological issues surrounding the discipline and emphasises its 'post-paradigmatic' stage. While some sociologists are looking for new theories (Furseth and Repstad), others highlight the variety of methods which allow a deeper understanding of the multiplicity of facts and meanings (Davie, Nespor and Luzny). Finally, the article discusses the specific position of religion(s) in post-communist countries and the ways in which it is studied.
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