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The Religious and the Social

The first FD Maurice lecture explores the evolving relationship between sociology and other approaches to the study of religion.

After reviewing a variety of sociological perspectives on religion, Professor Beckford shall begin to make a case for adopting a moderate form of social constructionism as a distinctively sociological – but not sociologistic – way of raising and tackling good questions about religions. Religions have lost none of their power to fascinate, to motivate and to infuriate in the early twenty-first century. The aim of these lectures is to discuss how far sociological perspectives are capable of raising important questions about religions and our understanding of them. The starting point is the emergence of sociological concerns with religion in the 19th and early 20th centuries and of the continuing doubts about the value of studying the social dimensions of religion. I shall then set out my own approach to understanding religion in its social contexts,using examples from recent research on, for example, religion in prisons,religious diversity and new religious movements. Finally, I shall discuss the contributions that sociological perspectives have brought to bear on a selection of current debates, disputes and controversies about religion in Britain today.


Professor James Beckford | talks


Date and Time:

18 March 2014 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Council Room
Strand Campus

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Organised by:

King's College London: School of Arts & Humanities
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