This 2003 book looks at ways of improving our understanding of religious change by strengthening the links between social theory and the social scientific study of religion. It clarifies the social processes involved in constructing religion and non-religion in public and private life.
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'Some books transform our understanding of their topics. Fewer books transform their disciplines. And a very few transform those who read them, such that they can never again approach their own subject matters in their accustomed ways. Jim Beckford's long-awaited 'summa' may do all three.' Sociology of Religion
'… a long-pondered distillation of major themes in the sociology of religion, expressed with clarity and logical consistency … should be mandatory reading for all sociologists seeking, in Max Weber's well-known phrase, 'to understand religion at the level of meaning'. Journal of Contemporary Religion
James A. Beckford is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick. His previous publications include The Trumpet of Prophecy. A Sociological Study of Jehovah's Witnesses (1975), Cult Controversies. The Societal Response to New Religious Movements (1989), Religion and Advanced Industrial Society (1989) and Religion in Prison. 'Equal Rites' in a Multi-Faith Society (with S. Gilliat, Cambridge University Press, 1998).
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