XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010


RC homepage


Research Committee on
Sociology of Religion RC22

Programme Coordinators
Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney, Australia, a.possamai@uws.edu.au and Sinisa Zrinscak, University of Zagreb, Croatia, sinisa.zrinscak@zg.t-com.hr

Congress Programme

Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Religion on the move: Religion in the context of global migration
Organizer: James V. Spickard, University of Redlands, USA, jim_spickard@redlands.edu
This session explores several existing and emerging models of religion in the context of global migration.  As is well-known, religion often plays a role in adapting immigrants to – or buffering them from – their new socio-cultural homes.  Religion can also operation bi-nationally, tying together regions and communities that would otherwise remain apart.  Religions can flow in surprising directions, South to North and South to South, among others, as missions and reverse missions push religion along unaccustomed paths.  Religious organizations can operate transnationally, following migratory flows, or they can stimulate those flows; in either case, the movement of peoples makes their organizational dilemmas more complex.  And religion can be an unexpected response to the denationalization and deterritorialization of economic migrants, both subaltern and elite; these often have political consequences.  This session welcomes papers that shed new light on these topics.

Session 2: Religion and power: Observing catholicisms from the global South
Organizer: Eloisa Martin, Brasilia Federal University, Brazil, eloisamartin@hotmail.com
This session proposes to discuss power relationships within Catholicism (specially State-Church, but also catholics-Church) in the Global South (Latin America, South Africa, and South and Southeast Asia). The comprehension that Europe –and the USA ultimately – could offer universal paradigms to understand religion (and its relationship with Modernity), left durable effects. The very existence of something as an international globalized academy is largely based on the prevalence of a Europhilic model of knowledge organization and production, that has, as a consequence, the almost  impossible contact between scholars and researchs from the Global South. It is more evident within studies on Catholicism, because of its European power centralization, tends to be mediated by and compared to European perspectives.

Session 3: Power, religion and social theory
Keynote address with Vicenzo Paze, University of Padova, Italy, vincenzo.pace@unipd.it and Bryan Turner, University of Cambridge, UK, bst22@cam.ac.uk

Session 4: The sociology of religion on the move
Presidential Address. Additional session on the Congress theme

Session 5: Immigrant religion and gender
Organizer: Inger Furseth, KIFO Centre for Church Research, Norway and Center for Religion and Civic Studies, University of Southern California, USA, inger.furseth@kifo.no
Studies on immigrant religions in the West have been growing. An important theme is the different ways in which gender transforms religious values and practices among immigrants and their descendants. There is a new awareness of the role of women in various world religions. Some immigrant women demonstrate higher levels of religious activity in their new country compared to their country of origin. Gender also structures immigrant religious communities and their roles for women and men. The gender discourse in the host society may provide an important influence on the view on gender within the immigrant religious communities. In some instances, there are more varied roles, especially for women, and in other instances, these roles have become more restricted and contested.

This session explores the importance of gender in immigrant religion, both in the lives of immigrants and their descendents and in the immigrant religious communities. The aim of the session is to provide a forum for scholars to present papers on gender and immigrant religion. Especially welcome are papers discussing new theoretical approaches, but also empirical works are welcome.

Session 6: Religious freedom and religious rights – Different contexts, different concepts?
Organizer: Sinisa Zrinscak, University of Zagreb, Croatia, sinisa.zrinscak@zg.t-com.hr
Freedom of religion and freedom from religion is widely recognized to be one of the main human rights, guaranteed by numerous international and national documents. However, what is the substance of that freedom and how it should be guaranteed in practice is far from clear. The issue is not mainly about differences between countries which basically recognized it and those which place several restrictions toward religions, but about different and in many cases conflictual understandings of religious rights. Even in the most democratic societies there are evidences about rising tensions and restrictions in the field of religious rights. This session welcomes papers which deal with the concept of religious freedom and religious rights from different social and cultural experiences and which show how and in what way the understandings and practice of religious rights change historically and socially. Both the specific case studies as well as comparative papers are welcomed.

Session 7: Religion and the sociological imagination
Organizer: Grace Davie, University of Exeter, UK, G.R.C.Davie@exeter.ac.uk
This session invites participants to think ‘imaginatively’ about religion and its place in the modern world – in other words to open up new areas of research, new methodologies and new research questions.  The latter is particularly important:  how we pose the question has huge influence on the subsequent research process.  Let us, then, following C W Mills himself (1959):   ‘re-arrange’ the file, abandon the conventional script, engage with reality rather than received truth, but – at the same time – think rigorously about what is going on.  Papers are invited from people who have done this, are doing this, or who want to do this. 

Session 8: Religion and modernity
Organizers: Dick Houtman and Stef Aupers, Erasmus University, The Netherlands, aupers@fsw.eur.nl
The assumption that modernization erodes religion in the western world – once uncontested in the social sciences – is increasingly under fire; many now feel that it has been exposed as a mere ideology or wish dream, intimately tied to the rationalist discourse of modernity. And indeed: today’s rapid globalization of Islam and the Evangelical upsurge, especially in Africa, Latin America and East Asia, fly in the face of the expectation that religion is doomed. Moreover, the modern world is witnessing a rise of various forms of post-traditional spirituality and ‘re-enchantment’. This session calls for papers that address the relationship between modernity and religion. Two varieties are called for: first, papers that delve into the ways modernity is transforming traditional religion. One can think, for instance, about the influence of market, media and Internet on religious beliefs, routines and rituals in Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. Second, papers that address new religions that are generated by modernity and modernization itself are also called for. One can think in this context about New Age ‘self’ religions, ‘rational’ sects and ‘scientific’ cults like ‘Scientology’ or the ‘Raelian’ movement or unacknowledged spiritual meanings in contemporary popular culture.  

Session 9: New religious movements and the secular state
Organizer: Martin Geoffroy, Université de Moncton, Canada, martin.geoffroy@umoncton.ca and Susan J. Palmer, Concordia University, Canada, spalmer@dawsoncollege.qc.ca
The principle of separation of church and state has been understood and applied in most democracies in the West for the better part of the 20th century. But an international survey of the “public management” of new religious movements (NRMs) indicates that this principle been applied in many different ways - ways that reflect the history and culture of the country in question. As we move from France’s «laïcité», to the U.S. “melting pot”; from Canada’s “reasonable accommodation” system to Quebec’s “multiculturalism”, we find that the line separating church and state is not always as clear as most citizens would like to think - and its “fuzziness” has implications for the level of tolerance that various states exhibit towards NRMs in their social midst. This session is dedicated towards exploring this issue, through the case studies by international scholars of NRMs and a sociological analyses of the data, that will hopefully shed light on the remarkable permutations and wide variations in church-state relations involving NRMs in recent years.

Session 10: Youth and religion. I
Joint session of RC22 Sociology of Religion [host committee] and RC34 Sociology of Youth

Session 11: Miscellaneous aspects of the sociology of religion
Organizer: Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney, Australia, A.Possamai@uws.edu.au
This session addresses an eclectic mix of themes in the sociology of religion that is not covered in any of the other sessions.

Session 12: Risk society and religion
Joint session of RC22 Sociology of Religion [host committee] and TG04 Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

Session 13: Business Meeting

Integrative session 10: Islam and power
Integrative session of Research Committee RC22 Sociology of Religion, Thematic Group TG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology, Australian Sociological Association, Croatian Sociological Association and Association for the Study of Persianate Societies