Research Committee on
Sociology of Religion, RC22

RC22 main page


Program Coordinators

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 16.

Call for Abstracts
14 April 2015 - 30 September 2015 24:00 GMT

Anyone interested in presenting a paper should submit an abstract on-line to a chosen session of RC/WG/TG
on-line submissions
The abstract (300 words) must be submitted in English, French or Spanish.

Sessions in alphabetical order

Business Meeting and Distinguished Lecture

Session Organizer(s)
James SPICKARD, University of Redlands, USA,

Session in English

A lecture by a distinguished sociologist on the conference theme, with two responses. An invited session organized by the RC22 President.


From New Age and Spiritualities to Different Worldviews: Individualized Religious Beliefs, Autonomy Values and Individualized Morality

Session Organizer(s)
Tilo BECKERS, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, Germany,
Pascal SIEGERS, GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany,

Session in English

We would like to invite papers linking the research traditions of “new age” and “spiritualities” with the study of value orientations and moral attitudes. Both adherents of secularization theory and of religious individualism, privatization and revival share an interest in both causes and consequences of these broad trends. While the decline of church religiosity has often been linked with changes in moral preferences, comparatively less attention has been paid to the impact of religious individualization on morality.
What is the impact of individualized religious beliefs on attitudes towards family norms, gender, sexualities, beginning-and-end-of life issues (to name but a few)? To what extent do people change their worldviews with their individualized religion? How do religious beliefs and values interact in defining people’s morality (Beckers, Siegers and Kuntz, 2012)? And to which degree and in which directions do and will societies change as a whole by the impact of individualized beliefs? And vice versa: In which ways do these changes in values and morality also contribute to the rise of bricolage religiosity and spirituality?
Earlier research (Siegers, 2012, 2014) has shown that at the individual level, self-expression values (which conflict with church religious morality) foster spirituality. This result underscores the importance that subjective individualism has played in the emergence of spirituality. There may also be interactions between self-expression values and religious socialization, e.g.: if individuals emphasise self-expression values, religious socialization increases the probability of spirituality.
We accept theoretical and empirical papers from different methodological domains, including quantitative and qualitative approaches.


Negotiating Religion and Citizenship in a Global Context

Session Organizer(s)
Olga BRESKAYA, European Humanities University, Lithuania,

Session in English

The concept of secular citizenship described by C. Calhoun as a tacit feature of modern political reality in the modern West questions the mechanisms and rules of consensual public space constitution as well as the preconditions for personal and institutional religious activity in diverse spheres of public life.
This session invites scholars to discuss the relations between religious, national, ethnic identities of citizens and the forms of their engagement and participation in civic life as well as “secular public places” for which ethnicity, religion, and culture suggest their own way of reasoning and a basis for civic action for individual citizens.


Presidential Session: Where Do We Go from Here? An Agenda for the Sociology of Religion

Session Organizer(s)
James SPICKARD, University of Redlands, USA,

Session in English

This invited session gathers several senior sociologists of religion to propose an agenda for the sociology of religion’s future progress. What do we need to learn about religion’s role in contemporary and future society? What questions remain unanswered? What projects have yet to be accomplished?
Participants will reflect on past and current scholarship, with an eye toward the future. In what directions does the sociology of religion need to go, to enhance sociology’s understanding of the world? Short presentations will be followed by questions from and discussion with the audience.



Religion in the Public Sphere

Session Organizer(s)
Enzo PACE, University of Padua, Italy,
Orivaldo P. LOPES Jr., Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Brazil,

Session in English

Persistence of religion in the modernity, although successive foreshadowings of fading away, challenges some conceptions of religion brought about by the social sciences in the spirit of modernity. The main conception related with this fact is that religion would become more and more a private business. Nevertheless, religions presently occupy the public sphere in politics, science, non-religious art, cyberspace and the market place. This happens not without tensions with the traditional public squares’ actors, and with internal conceptions that restrain external relationships and ostensive presence.
For this session, in order to build a global frame, we welcome proposals that include concrete cases of these tensions in different religious groups and countries. By and large, the public sphere is not only the political field, but also the science, the secular manifestation of art, the cyberspace and the market place.
For example, in politics, churches are trying to impose their religious conceptions in law, defending certain candidates, or fighting for public policies. In science, we can see the use of scientific tools by religious groups, and the study of religion by science not only as an object of study but also as a source of reflection. In secular art we can quote the presence of artists eager to demonstrate their religious affiliation. Religion in the cyberspace represents a new frontier with great transit of religious actors in the public square, and in the market place with the intense commercialization of products with religious motives.


Religion, Gender, and the Internet

Session Organizer(s)
Anna HALAFOFF, Deakin University, Australia,
Emma TOMALIN, University of Leeds, United Kingdom,
Caroline STARKEY, University of Leeds, United Kingdom,

Session in English

There is an emerging literature on women, religion and the Internet investigating a wide range of virtual interactions in different contexts. The internet is a gendered social space where the inequalities and prejudices within religions in the offline world can be both reinforced and challenged.
To what extent does “digital religion” offer a “third space” where traditional authority structures can be challenged in ways that might not be possible in the offline environment (Hoover and Echchaibi, 2012)? Or does the fact of the digital divide mean that access to the Internet is skewed in favour of literate women in economically privileged positions with access to modern technologies?
We will explore, and encourage submissions on, case studies about religious and/or spiritual womens’ digital networks, practices and activism. Is there something new or distinctive about online feminist religious and/or spiritual engagement? How is the Internet being used in radicalisation of women and also in deradicalisation strategies? And what methods and theories are applicable for researching women and “digital religion”?


Religion, Plus and Minus: Human Rights, Inter-Religious Understanding, Peace and Violence

Session Organizer(s)
Miroljub JEVTIC, Centre for the Study of Religion and Religious Tolerance, Serbia,

Session in English

This session solicits papers on three related topics:

These will be three separate roundtables. Please identify which of the three topics you wish your paper to address. We particularly welcome paper proposals that explore these topics in various local settings and in various religious traditions.


Religious Engagement and Spiritual Empowerment in Asian Countries: A Quest for Human Security and Self-Fulfilment

Session Organizer(s)
Yoshihide SAKURAI, Hokkaido University, Japan,

Session in English

This session first focuses on the “compressed modernity” in Asian countries, in which rapid industrialization and urbanization, accompanied by traditional institutions and mind-set, have increased national wealth while social contradictions such as poverty, ethnic segregation, and the battle for civil rights still exist. At present, Christian churches, Buddhist temples, and other religious institutions, associated with faith-based NGOs/NPOs are engaged in eliminating social problems through social support to needy and vulnerable people. Even upper-middle class in cities struggle for survival and seek for comfort in traditional and New Age healing.
We will consider cases of religious movements and spiritual empowerment which suffice peoples’ quest for human security and self-fulfillment. Although Engaged Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Christian charitable actions, and Muslim social welfare groups are well known, there are many other cases, such as diffused religiosities in reciprocal relations in social life, sacred rites of passage and pilgrimage, and spiritual empowerment in psychotherapy and business.
Through the comparison between different countries and religions, we could consider various aspects of “compressed modernity” in Asia and the response offered by religions. In so doing, we could extend our vision of the public sphere and religious engagement, which have been so far mainly discussed in the Western society and the Christian culture.


Religious Radicalization

Session Organizer(s)
Inger FURSETH, University of Oslo, Norway,

Session in English

The terms ”radical” and ”radicalization” are frequently used about active, religious individuals and groups. What do these terms really mean? What are the differences between religious activism and radicalization? How are people recruited into movements that are perceived to be radical? What do people in these movements think of themselves, their religious ideologies, and different strategies (non-violent and violent) to reach their goals?
This session will address empirical studies on people and movements that are often labeled “radicals”, the labels themselves, and different approaches to the study of religious radicalization.


Religious Trends among Second Generations in Europe

Session Organizer(s)
Roberta RICUCCI, University of Torino, Italy,

Session in English

Despite a rich body of literature, studies of ethnic religion and its role and impact on the second generation have been less extensive. However, evidence from some contemporary ethnic groups also suggests that ethnic religion may play a strong role in the lives of second-generation members. This is evident in recent studies on Muslims living in Europe. But Europe’s immigrant population is not only Muslim in origin.
Migratory flows from Latin America, the Philippines and Eastern Europe (i.e. Romania, Poland or Ukraine) bring people from Catholic and Christian countries to Europe. And – as it happens in the Italian and Spanish cases – these groups are now numerically significant among the whole immigrant population. Consequently, the almost exclusive focus on the Islamic component has allowed little investigation of the increase of the Christian/Catholic component.
The aim of the session is to invite papers to build an understanding of how Catholic/Christian second generations live their religious belonging in a European scene already characterized by secularisms on the one hand and new religious revival on the other.
Papers may include a focus on how young people with Christian/Catholic backgrounds develop their religiousness in a migratory context where they are not stigmatized (at least for their religious affiliation), the role of ethnic parishes, religious education, atheism and a comparison with other youth groups.


Studying the African Diaspora Significance for Struggles Toward a Better World

Session Organizer(s)
Jualynne DODSON, Michigan State University, USA,

Session in English

This session will focus on discussions of the proposition that African descendants in the Americas and other locations of the African Diaspora have demonstrated an on-going capacity to sustain their humanity by employing Africa-inspired principles to build social spaces, express self-identity, construct religious practices, create dynamic cultural expressions, and participate in the transformation of their larger social order. It is the sustaining of “humanity” through cultural and religious practices that is of concern to the session.
African descendants in the Diaspora, particularly the Americas but not exclusively, for more than 400 years have continued creation and maintenance of social activities grounded in their continent-derived epistemological foundation and to envision/employ the creations as counter-hegemonic articulations to racial enslavement, segregation, discrimination, inequality, and oppression. Among such creations is music throughout the Diaspora, social organizations in the United States and elsewhere, food traditions of Caribbean and other nations, dance traditions in Argentina, US and more locations, as well as religious traditions throughout the Americas.
Few researchers have fully explored such distinct patterns and expressions that undergird social practice for this important component of humanity. The purpose of this session is to engage African descendants’ produced-creations as potentials for informing, understanding, and planning for a better world.


The Categories of Religion and the Secular in the Post-Secular Discourse

Session Organizer(s)
Mitsutoshi HORII, Shumei University, Japan,

Session in English

When we talk about “post-secularity”, what do we actually mean by “religion” and the “secular”? How and why do we conceptually distinguish them? What are norms and imperatives in such a classificatory practice? This is a regular session which critically examines the religious-secular dichotomy in the discourse of “post-secularity”.
The demarcation between “religion” and the “secular” has been critically examined for some decades by many scholars. In particular, the so-called “critical religion” theory argues that the religious-secular dichotomy is the key binary that constitutes modernity and serves the hegemony of liberal capitalist nation-states. Furthermore, it proclaims that the religious-secular binary is an ideological basis for mystifying “natural reason”, and thus questions modern formations of knowledge and power in general.
Have sociologists considered such critique of the religious-secular dichotomy seriously and constructively in their own discourse on “post-secularity”? Should the religious-secular dichotomy in the post-secular discourse be critically deconstructed? When the religious-secular dichotomy is so deeply embedded in sociological discourse that sociologists uncritically identify their discipline as “secular”, should the discipline of sociology be regarded as an “ideological state apparatus”?
This session invites papers which critically examine, in the context of the post-secular discourse, norms and imperatives which govern specific configuration of the religious-secular dichotomy.


The Politics of Religious Heritage: Memory, Identity and Place

Session Organizer(s)
Avi ASTOR, Universitad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain,
Marian BURCHARDT, Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany,
Mar GRIERA, Universitad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain,

Session in English

Debates on religious heritage are gaining prominence in the contemporary world amid processes of secularization, diversification and religious revitalization. As dynamics of transnationalization and global migration unsettle inherited understandings of citizenship, nationhood and belonging more broadly, questions of how religions relate to imaginations of national communities are becoming more and more important. In this scenario, processes of negotiation, contestation and reinterpretation of religious pasts take on greater saliency in the public, cultural and political spheres.
The session suggests that these processes feed into new forms of politics of religious heritage redrawing symbolic boundaries around affectively charged cultural cores, and explores how these politics play out in different fields. We welcome contributions examining the framing of religion as heritage in pilgrimage, festivals and religious travels, as well as exploring the notion of religious heritage in the political, legal or cultural domains.


Topics and Forms of Religious Mobilization in Europe

Session Organizer(s)
Sinisa ZRINSCAK, University of Zagreb, Croatia,

Session in English

The continuing or new ways of religion’s public significance have been debated in the sociology of religion, particularly in relation to enduring evidences of a secularization process in the majority of European countries. Still, we need more evidence about sources of public mobilization of religion(s) and ways in which this is expressed.
This session is focusing on topics and forms of contemporary ways of religious mobilization in different European countries. Two questions are particularly relevant. Firstly, around which topics is religion able to initiate public responses which are at least partly based on religious legitimatization? Is it more about ethical issues, identity, or social processes, such as poverty, inequality, or migration? Secondly, which are the forms in which religious mobilization usually takes place? Is it more about religious groups which publicly express their voices, or more about other social or mainly political groups which mix religious legitimization with other ideas or ideological thoughts?
The session is particularly keen to explore differences among countries and social reasons for differences in topics and forms of religious mobilization as well as differences which can be explained by various confessional traditions and religious forms (particularly in relation to majority–minority status). The session welcomes both local case studies and cross-national comparisons.


Welfare and Civil Society: The Role of Religion

Session Organizer(s)
Per PETTERSSON, Karlstad University, Sweden,

Session in English

In addressing issues of social inequality politicians and policymakers across the world are increasingly talking about religion, not least in the sense of calling on faith-based organisations to play an active role as welfare providers as part of civil society. At the same time religious groups and organizations struggle with the impact that an increased cooperation with public authorities can have on identity, theology and potential to act as critic of the system.
This session invites papers which address these pertinent issues. Contributions may address evidence from empirical research and/or theoretical reflection on issues of faith-based organisations as welfare providers or challengers of value systems in welfare, individual religiosity in the encounter with welfare services, faith-based organisations as actors in civil society in the welfare arena or other related issues.


World Religions and Axial Civilizations

Session Organizer(s)
Stephen KALBERG, Boston University, USA,
Said ARJOMAND, Stony Brook University, USA,

Session in English

This session aims to define the various ways in which a particular epoch called forth distinct forms of reflection upon the nature of the supernatural realm by cohesive groups of intellectuals. This “Axial Age” saw the birth of salvation religions in ancient India (Hinduism and Buddhism) and ancient Israel (Judaism), and distinct philosophical schools in ancient Greece and China (Confucianism). Furthermore, this session investigates the extent to which this unusual era resulted largely from structural transformations (e.g., the fall of empires and a subsequent internal pluralism and moderate conflict; see Jaspers) or significantly from charismatic visionaries. It also examines the role of intellectuals in codifying the philosophical schools and sacred texts of the world religions that originated in this epoch.
Eisenstadt modified his early idea of “Axial Age Civilizations” to “Axial Civilizations” to include the rise of Christianity and Islam, and added the “civilization of modernity” to reflect even later developments. The session accordingly queries whether later changes – for example, the development of Islamicate civilization on the one hand and Early Modern transformations (e.g., natural law) in the West on the other hand – can be best conceptualized as clear legacies of Axial Age developments.


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Rhythms and Rituals

Joint session of RC22 Sociology of Religion and RC54 The Body in the Social Sciences [host committee]





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International Sociological Association
April 2015