The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion

SAGE. 2 vols. Feb. 2020. 1,000p. ISBN 9781529714401. $410. REF
Possamai (sociology, Western Sydney Univ.; The I-zation of Society, Religion, and Neoliberal Post-Secularism), Blasi (formerly, sociology, Tennessee State Univ.; Social Science and the Christian Scriptures), and almost 300 global contributors devote their work both to the study of religious (and seven nonreligious, e.g., agnostic, humanist) social constructs and to specific beliefs, places, and activities. The foundations of such study, including theories, books, research methods, key professional associations, and related disciplines (anthropology, psychology), are extensively covered. Entries clearly define, contextualize, and explain abstractions (digital religion, lived religion) as well as concrete varieties of religious belief and practice (hijab, canon law). More than 120 religious institutions and groups, ranging from the well known (Catholicism, Hinduism) to the more obscure (Caodaism) get individual entries, forming a miniencyclopedia of their own. Religions’ connection to a range of current social issues (the environment, ethnicity, international development) are explicated. Posthumous biographies of 23 male “classic theorists” include W.E.B. Du Bois and Ibn-Khaldun. An intriguing article on secularization interrogates the “modern” label of the United States, noting that in a 2016 survey, 42 percent of Americans rejected evolution. The entries on the African diaspora, among many others, usefully suggest future lines of scholarly inquiry. The editors note that a third volume could be added, and indeed, however wide ranging, the current work does not exhaust the topic.
VERDICT An impressive scope and depth will make these volumes illuminating the interaction between religion and social structures valuable to students, academics, administrators, counselors, journalists, and other researchers in the field.
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