Religion: As with gender and class, we saw three ways to interpret religion in society

For this unit, we turn our attention to religion, also a way people identify themselves and others (just like class, race, and gender). This is the final conceptual unit before we dive into an historical example that shows how our four concepts play out in real life

Write “Religion” Essay

We turn our attention now to the final of our four concepts we will be using to analyze the past (Puritan New England) and the present (class project you will choose in November): Religion. As with class, gender, and race, people identify themselves and are identified by others by religion.

First, I suggest you go back to look at the class syllabus, particularly the FAQs toward the end. There you will find a discussion about the academic study of religion. Basically, it is both the study of people being religious and an analysis of the relationship of those beliefs/behaviors with the society surrounding them. In remaining unbiased and factual, it is important when assessing religious people that we do not make “faith claims” or use our personal religious experience as evidence for an argument or assertion. Similarly, if you do not believe in a faith tradition, you cannot use terms like “wrong” or “crazy” when analyzing them. It is certainly fine to have your own personal religion or to have no faith whatsoever, but it should have no bearing on analyzing religion and culture in relation to events we will analyze in this course.

Your materials this week reviewed the seven dimensions of religion and then looked more particularly at the social dimension. To help us with that focus, you read one and watched two videos that look at religion from a sociological perspective. Using what you’ve learned about religion and society, write a 400-600 word essay on the following question. Be sure to use your own words even if you are referring to the words or ideas of someone in the materials. There is no need to footnote, simply giving the page number or video time mark within parentheses is fine.



As with gender and class, we saw three ways to interpret religion in society: (1) symbolic interactionism, (2) structural functionalism, and (3) social conflict theory. Do you think religion improves social cohesiveness or increases social stratification? Use one or two specific examples as evidence of your argument.









Begin by reading about Ninian Smart’s 7 dimensions of religion that many religion scholars think capture the various components of most religions. A second document is simply a graph drawing that teases out Smart’s 7 dimensions in a handy fashion that could prove helpful later. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

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After reviewing these materials, go to the next assignment and write the short essay described there.

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