Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1-4 August 2012

Research Committee on
Sociology of Religion, RC22

  on-line programme

Main theme

Religion, justice and democratization in contemporary societies

 

Programme Coordinator

Eloísa MARTIN, University of Brasilia, Brazil, eloisamartin@hotmail.com

RC22 Liaison in Argentina
María Cecilia Galera, , mceciliagalera@gmail.com

Deadlines

All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.

Sessions

provisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order

 

Alternatives religiosities and beliefs in contemporary world

In this session, we aim to work on an epistemological approach to religion that deals with a variety of belief and meaning systems and worldviews. It will lead to debates that will address religious beliefs and practices not necessarily confined to the dogmas of salvation religions. In this sense, we aim to discuss those religious phenomena related with the sacred and symbolic that are not part of institutionalized religion. These are implicit religion, popular religion, multi-religiosity and all kinds of alternative beliefs and religiosities that appear outside of the “classical” space of churches, temples, or religious institutions. The focus will be specific to the non-institutionalized everyday practices that enrich the sacred-profane relation.

 

Asian religions in the era of globalization

Peter Beyer and other scholars have pointed out that the religious connection to globalization can be understood through the lens of transnational migration, missionary efforts, and links to socio-political movements with global effects. Additionally, while culture used to be linked to a group of people in a specific territory, migrant communities and their religions became illustrative cases of “deterritorialization” in a globalizing world. Therefore this session will discuss the case of Asian religions in the context of globalization to advance the understanding of the globalizing process. For instance, the overseas propagation of Asian religions may lead into a broader understanding of globalization as a multifaceted process, rather than one restricted to Westernization. Or it may reinforces the idea that religious globalization adds up to a counter-current against homogenization through diverse processes such as hybridization, “inculturation”, syncretism, fundamentalism, interfaith dialogue and activities, etc.

 

Beliefs in the city: Religious transformations in urban areas

This session proposes to discuss the various transformations of the ways of believing in urban areas; as the fast expansion of cities has generated a number of changes in citizens’ everyday life. This session aims to reflect on the different implications of those mutations, focusing on the life experiences that have been conducive to a new religious landscape.

 

Ethnicity, beliefs and religiosities

This session aims to explore the relation between the ethnic and religious fields. This session not only deals with the so-called indigenous, autochthonous, aborigines, or native groups, but also to any group which has an ethnic identity and/or a sense of belonging that interrelates with beliefs and religious practices. In this sense, we will discuss how ethnicity shapes a religious identity, and/or field.

 

Politics and Religion

 

Qualitative methods in the sociology of religion. Part 1

Joint session of RC22 Sociology of Religion and RC33 Logic and Methodology in Sociology [host committee]
Presently, the `return of religion` is intensely discussed among scholars. This includes the public face and the social forms of contemporary religion as well as its individual dimension. Over the past years, we are witnessing a growing number of empirical studies all over the world concerned with religious phenomena. However, most of these studies employ quite conventional methodology. Therefore, the session will focus on qualitative methods for studying religious phenomena.

We encourage participants to present papers concerned with methodological questions related to the specific problems of empirical research in the Study of Religions.

This includes a discussion of appropriate and effective methods for researching religion and may encompass a critical discussion of methodological issues concerning qualitative inquiry in the field of religion, e.g. can we transfer methods from other fields of re-search to the sociology of religion or do we need special, field-specific methods? What can we learn from methods used in neighbouring disciplines? Which sets of methods can be recommended for empirical analyses targeting micro-macro issues in understanding religion? What role does the gender issue play in this?

We are especially interested in papers reporting empirical research finding in the sociology of religion using qualitative research methods in combination with methodological reflections.

The topics include: religious experience; spirituality; the transformation of contemporary religion; religion in the public sphere and the impact of religion on private life; religion and emotion; religion, migration and ethnicity; social memory and religious identities; the changing role of religious organization; religion, communication, and media; and dynamics and transformation of beliefs.

 

Qualitative methods in the sociology of religion. Part 2

Joint session of RC22 Sociology of Religion and RC33 Logic and Methodology in Sociology [host committee]

 

RC22 Business Meeting

 

Regimes of religious regulation I: Government and social regulation of religion

When addressing the issue of religious pluralism, current analysis tends to overemphasize the degree of religious “pluralism” and “freedom” resulting from the erosion of religious monopolies and the development of a religious market. Particularly –but not only - in Latin America, dominant academic narratives postulate the straightforward advent of “religious pluralism” out of the market situation, downplaying the social costs that membership in many religious minorities still entails.

The panel suggests the need to eschew the false dichotomy of monopoly and pluralism and encourages participants to examine the many ways in which both governmental and social regulation of religions exist and persist, occasionally severely limiting individuals’ rights to equal citizenship. It envisions citizenship as affected by the pattern of relations between state and religion – or ‘regime of religious regulation’- but also by the actions of other social actors –both secular and religious interests who, knowingly or not, continuously make public statements regarding the relative worth of different religious beliefs and practices and their corresponding positive or negative social consequences.

The panel welcomes papers that emphasize the need to examine degrees of regulation of religious markets and reconceptualize pluralism in more precise ways by visualizing alternative structures of the religious field involving religious oligopolies and tacit government favoritism of certain religions, and examining the manifold controversies sparked by the different kinds of social visibility that religions now enjoy.

 

Regimes of religious regulation II: Multiculturalism and the management of religion

When addressing the issue of religious pluralism, current analysis tends to overemphasize the degree of religious “pluralism” and “freedom” resulting from the erosion of religious monopolies and the development of a religious market. Particularly –but not only - in Latin America, dominant academic narratives postulate the straightforward advent of “religious pluralism” out of the market situation, downplaying the social costs that membership in many religious minorities still entails. The panel suggests the need to eschew the false dichotomy of monopoly and pluralism and encourages participants to examine the many ways in which both governmental and social regulation of religions exist and persist, occasionally severely limiting individuals’ rights to equal citizenship.

The panel envisions citizenship as affected by the pattern of relations between state and religion – or ‘regime of religious regulation’- but also by the actions of other social actors –both secular and religious interests who, knowingly or not, continuously make public statements regarding the relative worth of different religious beliefs and practices and their corresponding positive or negative social consequences. This second part of the panel will focus especially on how the religions of immigrants, as well as of national ethnic Others, are affected by its conflation with ethnicity. Tuned to the current popularity of multicultural narratives of national belonging and the different social legitimation enjoyed by the public vindication of ethnic, racial and religious identities, it welcomes papers that take into account the intricate weaving of these different but often related dimensions of citizenship.

 

Religion and the challenges of contemporary world

 

Religion and the rights of social minorities

In the political arena of contemporary societies, several new groups of citizens have constantly emerged, demanding the broadening of their countries’ traditional charters of rights and inclusion in longstanding systems of the Modern State through public policies and specific laws. Social groups formed by the indigenous, people of African descent, women, homosexuals, members of religious denominations are some of the most common examples.

Part of these groups, previously without social visibility or on the fringe of decision making and power structures in their societies, have been constituting and strengthening themselves through the intermingling of religious identities with notions of citizenship differentiated from those usually defined as classic references of the modern individual. Some of them are groups that have guaranteed the existence of protective mechanisms for their particular and essential condition as religious communities in the face of the secularity of modern statutes.

At the same time, another part of these new groups has faced rigid religion-based resistance on behalf of members of the judiciary, legislative and executive systems in their attempts to ensure that their rights become reality and that progress is made in meeting their claims. As such, although pressure by civil society and organized social movements has succeeded in including their demands in legal instruments, there is a considerable setback in the practices of civil servants who manage them because of conservative religious ideologies contrary to the political gains achieved by these minorities.

This session aims to bring together sociological productions that discuss the issues presented above, either through descriptive or analytical studies. The possibility of presenting a broad panorama on these new citizens, with religion as a source of progress or as an obstacle to their effective and enhanced citizenship, will contribute to the RC 22 theme of “Religion, Justice and Democratization in contemporary societies”.

 

Religion, rights, mobility, migration

The circulation of people through internal and external state boarders, and their diverse residence options (temporary, permanent or as episodes), implies a challenge to the sedentary and state-centric paradigm. Among the main concepts of this paradigm is the notion of “citizenship rights” thought as a beam of rights associated with the belonging to a National State (as “regular” or “natural” residents). The intrinsic restrictions of the citizenship concept exclude “the right to have rights” to a wide spectrum of circulating people whose vital, familiar and labor trajectories are built based on mobility. Both, the “rhetoric of exclusion” instituted in North American and European states, and the “immigration management” paradigm result in the emergence of large populations that –even choosing to reside in a state- are prevented from full citizenship rights.

In this panel, we propose to discuss the role of churches, religions and spiritual communities for men and women migrants. The breach of the integration paradigm in the analysis of migration, and the questioning of the state-centric approaches in the study of religions converge on a focus on mobile subjects that not only move through space but also transform their social and religious affiliations. How do religious groups face the question of the migrant’s rights (civil, political, social, economic and sexual rights)? How do migrants articulate their religious affiliations in their mobility? How migrant groups´ citizenship requirements affect religious identities?

This panel points at the discussion of the potential of religious discourses and practices as an articulation of different situations in a context of strengthening of rights given by the states. We are also interested in the actual possibility that religious discourse has in proposing transnational practices and discourses, focusing on an institutional level and migrant people practices.

 

Religious pluralism and struggle for justice in secular democracies

With the advancement of science & technology, democratization and secularization, religious pluralism has become more strengthened. While Weber (1930) observed that ‘The modern man is in general, even with the best will, unable to give religious ideas a significance for culture and national character which they deserve’, Emile Durkheim was confident that even as known religions such as Christianity and Judaism declined, new religious forms would inevitably arise in modern society. Durkheim believed that ‘there is something eternal in religion that is destined to outlive the succession of particular symbols in which religious thought has clothed itself’.

Classical religions have retained their space in democratic societies while sharing resurrection of certain religions like Buddhism at their places of origin and assimilating new religions/faiths like Sikhism and Bahai in democratic societies. In fact, secularism and religious pluralism in democratic societies have been instrumental in producing religious vitality. Albeit, fundamentalism threatens justice and equality particularly for backward classes and minorities as clashes of cultural values and societal norms have also emerged with the assimilation of various faiths within secular democracies. Fundamentalist movements are seen as response to perceived internal or external threats, assertions of ethnicity or resistance to secularisation all over the world. Justice and equality be it social, economic, political or by law have thus become major concerns for strengthening processes of religious pluralism, secularism and democratization.

The proposed session would invite papers from all over the world on “Religious Pluralism and Struggle for Justice in Secular Democracies” and would attempt to develop an empirical understanding of religious pluralism with regard to forms of contemporary religious practices within the processes of secularisation, religious assertiveness outside the politics of communalism and struggle for justice, equality and rights against religious fundamentalism under secular democracies.

 

 

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