PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Boston, MA
November 18-21, 2017

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Sociology of Religion Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The Sociology of Religion Unit of the American Academy of Religion serves as a bridge between religious studies and the subdiscipline of sociology of religion. It functions as a two-way conduit not only to import sociological research into religious studies but also to export the research of religious studies into both the subdiscipline and the broader field of sociology. Only through a cross-fertilization transgressing departmental boundaries can there be breakthroughs in research in both fields. The unit has a wide conception of sociology of religion. It is open to a multiplicity of paradigms and methodologies utilized in the subfield and sociology more broadly: theoretical as well as empirical, quantitative, qualitative, and comparative-historical. By liaising with other Program Units, the Sociology of Religion Unit is able to bring the rich diversity of critical and analytical perspectives that are housed in the American Academy of Religion into mainstream sociology of religion. Conversely, it aims to provide scholars of the study of religion with a deeper understanding of the landscape of sociology of religion.

Call for Papers: 

Sociology of Religion as part of a larger discipline is marked by a canonization of its theory and its division by paradigms and methodologies--whether these be the classics (Weber and Durkheim), the old paradigm (functionalism and social constructionism), or the new paradigm (rational choice) on the one hand or quantitative, qualitative, or historical-comparative sociology on the other. As it intersects with sociology of religion, the study of religion has drawn from theories and methodologies in conversation with sociology, anthropology, critical theory, psychology, history, and other related disciplines. We are interested both in papers that utilize the methods and theories in the study of religion and bring them into the sociological canon as well as those that help religious studies gain a better grasp of the sociological theory of religion. We encourage papers that exploit both the theory and methodology of sociology of religion and religious studies and use them as frames for analysis of concrete cases. We are interested in historical topics in the sociology of religion as well as contemporary ones. In particular, we request papers that touch upon social divisions examining race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, region, age, etc.

Critics of sociology of religion have pointed out that the field is dominated by North American scholars primarily interested in Protestantism. The discipline of religious studies provides a clear antidote to these perceived limitations. Therefore, we encourage contributions from academics who study the various religious traditions around the world as well as those studying North American religious communities. In particular, we would like submissions from scholars from all academic ranks across the lines of nationality, region, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

The purpose of the Sociology of Religion program unit of the American Academy of Religion is to bridge the gap and create cross-fertilization between the Sociology of Religion and Religious Studies. One way to do so is to break down each of these fields into their core component: theory, methods, and data. Comparing sociology of religion and religious studies: First, what are the core canons in each field? Sociological Theory of Religion (SOR) and Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (RS). What are their central theories? Second, what are the main methodologies that each field primarily relies upon? Finally, what count as data in each of these fields?

Along these lines, we are interested in the following topics:
• The intersection of theory, methods and data in Religious Studies and Sociology of Religion

• Bringing non-western theory into Sociological Theory of Religion and the Method and Theory in the Study of Religion

• Core Canons: Sociological Theory of Religion and Method and Theory in the Study of Religion

• Core Theories: Secularization Theory (or Religious Pluralism) and Critical Religion

• Comparative Methodologies: Sociology of Religion vs. Religious Studies

• What counts as data in Religious Studies and Sociology of Religion?

• Assessments of how “religion” is operationalized in quantitative sociology

Beyond this, we are particularly interested in the following more substantive topics. This is not an exclusive list and we encourage submissions on other topics as well.
• Peter Berger’s The Sacred Canopy at 50: Future Directions for a Sociological Classic

• Social and Religious Movements (along racial, ethnic, national, regional, or class lines)

• Sociology of Religion from Unheard Voices

In addition to this, the Sociology of Religion Unit is inviting proposal for a co-sponsored panel with the Anthropology of Religion Unit. Below is the description of the panel:
For a special panel co-sponsored with the Anthropology of Religion and Sociology of Religion program units, we invite papers that examine problems encountered or mistakes made in the context of ethnographic fieldwork. Papers should present the context of the research and the specific details of the problem/mistake that arose and how it was addressed. Extra time will be allotted to brainstorm additional solutions and to thinking broadly about a "methodology of/for mistakes."

The Sociology of Religion Unit of AAR regularly co-sponsors panels with the peer-reviewed print and online journal Critical Research on Religion (CRR) (http://crr.sagepub.com). Published by SAGE Publications, the journal has over 8000 subscriptions worldwide. Presenters of promising papers in SOR panels will be invited to turn their papers into articles and submit them for peer review to CRR. For further information, please contact SOR co-chairs.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee