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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Psychology and Sociology
Course Prefix and Number: SOCI 341
Course Title: *Sociology and Anthropology of Religion
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Examines the sources and roles of religion in societies. Offers an instroduction to the major sociological theories and concepts about religions and religious movements. Provides a cross-cultural approach to religious systems and practices. Focuses on how religion fosters social integration and community, but also power, oppression, and discrimination. These themes will be discussed using examples of the religious perspectives on and experiences of women, gays/lesbians, and ethnic minorities. Cross-listed as ANTH 341.  Prerequisite: Junior standing. Course meets Multcultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered odd fall.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Sociology of Religion: Contemporary Developments
By Christiano, Kevin J., William H. Swatos, Jr., and Peter Kivisto (Rowman Littlefield)
Engendering Church: Women, Power, and the AME Church
By Dodson, Jualynne (Rowman Littlefield)
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
By Durkheim, Emile. Translated by Carol Cosman (Oxford University Press)
One Nation Under God? Religion and American Culture
By Garber, Marjorie and Rebecca Walkowitz (Routledge)
Religion and Immigration: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Experiences in the United States
By Haddad, Yvonne, Jane Smith, and John Espisito (Rowman Littlefield)
Feminist Narratives and the Sociology of Religion
By Nason-Clark, Nancy and Major Jo Neitz (Rowman and Littlefield)
Religion and Social Policy
By Nesbitt, Paula, ed. (Rowman Littlelfield)
The Transformation of American Religion
By Porterfield, Amanda (Oxford University Press)
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
By Weber, Max. Translated by Stephen Kalberg (Roxbury)
Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalism Around the World
By Almond, Gabriel A., R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Heavenís Kitchen: Living Religion at Godís Love We Deliver
By Bender, Courtney (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century
By Corrigan, John (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
American Catholics: Gender, Generation, and Commitment
By D'Antonio, William V., et. al. (Rowman Littlefield)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Religion and Sexuality in Cross-Cultural Perspective
By Ellingson, Stephen and M. Christian Green (Routledge)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Spiritual, But Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America
By Fuller, Robert C. (Oxford University Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
The Living Goddesses
By Gimbutas, Marija (Univ. of California Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Capitalism and Religion: The Price of Piety
By Goodchild, Philip (Routledge)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Myth and Knowing: An Introduction to World Mythology
By Leonard, Scott and Michael McClure (McGraw Hill)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Meaning and Modernity: Religion, Polity, and Self
By Madsen, Richard, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Stephen M. Tipton (Univ. of California Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood
By McRoberts, Omar Maurice (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Faith in Action: Religion, Race, and Democratic Organizing in America
By Wood, Richard L. (Univ. of Chicago Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Genalogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam
By Adad, Talal (John Hopkins University Press)
The Anthropology of Religion: an Introduction
By Bowie, Fiona (Wiley Blackwell)
The Sacred and the Profane
By Eliade, Mircea (Harcourte Brace and Wood)
Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia
By Geertz, Clifford (University of Chicago Press)
Shamans and Religions: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking
By Kehoe, Alice Beck (Waveland Press)
A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion
By Lambek, Michael (Wiley Blackwell)
Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn
By McCarthy Brown, Karen (University of California Press)
Course Objectives

  • To understand the role of religion in society from a sociological perspective.
  • To summarize the contributions to the sociology of religion provided by the classical social theorists: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
  • To understand patterns of religiosity across time and place.
  • To compare and contrast different religions in terms of beliefs, practices, sacred texts, deities, etc.
  • To understand the religious relationships and experiences of ethnic minorities, women, gays and lesbians.
  • To understand the principles of secular humanism, paganism.

    Measurable Learning

  • Describe the collective behavioral forms of religious experience and structures adapted from that behavior.
  • Analyze and explain the patterns of both ecstatic and ritual action among comparative religions.
  • Synthesize the perspectives of sociology and psychology on the role of religion in solidarity and social change.
  • Explain the various religions studied and their similarities and differences.

    Topical Outline:

  • Sacred and the profane
  • Significance of ritual -- Durkheim
  • Theoretical perspectives on religion and society -- Marx, Weber, Durkheim
  • Judaism, Christianity, Islam
  • Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism
  • Paganism, secular humanism
  • Solidarity and social change
  • Ethnic minorities, woman, gays/lesbians *Symbols and myths *Witchcraft, spirit possession and magic *Religious specialitss: shamans, pastors, imams, priests, monks

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 30

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Yngve Digernes Date: August 22, 2011
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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