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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2009

SOC 343 • Religion and Society

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46585 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BUR 208

Course Description


Since the classical treatises of Weber, Durkheim, and Marx, social scientists have widely assumed that the vitality and social power of religion are being steadily eroded by the forces of modernity. However, these time-honored notions of secularization are now under attack, and they are rapidly giving way to a more dynamic, market-oriented perspective on individual and collective religious life, especially in the contemporary United States. After a quick review and critique of various pro-seculatization arguments, we will explore the relevance of this debate-- and the "new paradigm"--in relation to the following topics:

1. the apparent growth of socially and theologically conservative religious communities, and the apparent decline of more liberal ones
2. the varied factors influencing the religious decision-making of individuals
3. the emergence of various new religious movements (including so-called "cults"), as well as the growth of non-Judeo-Christian faiths, and the societal response to this growing diversity
4. the perennial role of the religious institutions as "free social spaces," through which various cultural minorities (e.g., racial/ethnic groups) can sustain personal and group identities and seek empowerment
5. the impact of religious institutions and values on the personal and family well-being of individual Americans, and
6. the place of religious institutuions and values in the contemporary debates concerning "the family" and othe public and political issues.

Grading Policy

Two in-class exams 25% each
Comprehensive final 40%
Pop quizzes 10%

Exams will consist of a combinatin of obejctive items as well as essay questions. Regular attendance and advance preparation of reading will be expected. Final grades may be influenced by students who performance improves during the semester. Also class participation may affect final grade (although quiet persons will not be penalized.)


Course packet available at Paradigm. Additional materials may be posted to Blackboard. There will also be occasional guest lectureres and possible videos which will be announced in class in advance.


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