REL/SOC 308 M-W
2:30-3:45 PM T-TH
of the Course
An investigation of the contribution
of religious symbolism and practice to social organization, socialization,
stratification, and change. The course examines the application of social
theory, especially organization studies, to understanding religion as
a social institution, particularly in the U.S. On demand. (Either SOC
or REL 308)
of the Course
To introduce key scholars
and ideas of the sociological dimension of the human phenomenon of religion.
To engage students in both
quantitative and qualitative research methods, while describing other
methodologies (such as cross-cultural analysis, experimentation and
To understand how religion
provides a worldview for its participants through the creation of myths,
rituals, symbols, beliefs and practices.
To explore the phenomenon
of civil religion as defined by Robert Bellah
Berger, Peter L. (1967) The
Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New
York: Anchor Books
Douglas, Mary (2002). Purity
and Danger: An Analysis of Concept of Pollution and Taboo. New York:
Durkheim, Émile (2008).
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Carol Cosman, trans. New York:
Oxford University Press
Kurtz, Lester. R. (2007).
Gods in the Global Village: The World's Religions in Sociological Perspective.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
Smith, Christian (2009). Souls
in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Weber, Max (2010). The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.
We will conduct quanatative
research, based on Souls in Transition. Based on a close reading
of the text, I have developed a five-point Likert scale questionnaire,
with responses ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly
agree" with the mid-point response as "neither agree nor disagree"
(the other two points will be either "disagree" or "agree").
We want to know how Centenary students compare to the results indicated
in the study. Once the instrument has been designed, you will be asked
to conduct interviews. Given our population is approximately 420 students,
we will need a sample size of 40 (this estimates a 95% accuracy rate
with a 14.82% margin of error; you can generate this number either by knowing
statistical analysis or using an online calculator). This figure means
that each student will issue the questionnaire to approximately 14 Centenary
students. Once the interviews have been conducted (no student can be
interviewed twice and students enrolled in this class can certainly
be interviewed) we can extract our raw data sets by inputting data into
an Excel spreadsheet and look at issues of mean scores, T-tests (whether
the difference among mean scores are actually statistically significant
or just chance), weighted percentages, chi square testing (comparing
our results to the expected results found in Souls in Transition)
and a correlation coefficient (calculating the possible relationship
between two variables such as paternal religious service attendance
and the subject having some doubts about religious beliefs). By
using simple statistical functions within Excel, we will be looking
for an r value between -1 (strong negative relationship) to 1 (strong
positive relationship), with a score of zero indicating no relationship
at all. Finally, you will be asked to design charts and graphs that
present the statistical results (again, Excel should help us, or you
can export the data to another program or make a PowerPoint presentation).
I will provide you the instrument by the fifth week of class, with interviews
taking place over the following two weeks and results computated for a series of in-class presentations. You
will only select a very small part of study to replicate; let me know
what aspect of the study you wish to replicate and I will place that
information on our Announcements page to avoid duplications. I will create the basic Excel sheet
with the raw data; this document will then be distributed to class members
via an attachment to an email. This assignment will represent
35% of your final grade.
Conduct qualitative research
by constructing an interview protocol designed to see in which of the
six categories (see Chapter Six of Souls in Transition) a subject
might be placed. This type of research involves a close reading of a
verbatim to ascertain evidence for placing a subject in one or more
categories (yes, subjects may be in more than one category). Each class
member will conduct one interview, type the verbatim (based on a digital
recording of the interview), and analyze the verbatim, putting forth
evidence for your conclusion. This assignment will be due Monday, April 20. Worth 25% of final grade.
You will have both a midterm
and final examination in this course, consisting of Fill in the Blank,
Identification of Term/Concept and short answer essay, based on course
readings and lectures. Each exam worth 20% of your final grade.
1 and 2 involve human subjects, you need to receive permission to conduct
these interviews from the Research with Human Subjects Review Board
(http://www.centenary.edu/irb/forms). You will need to take (and pass) the on-line ethics course and fill out the first form located on the IRB website.
(keep in mind the weighting of each exercise)
Questions for Questionnaire
26 completed Questionnaires
Competed Excel Spreadsheet
Presentation of Findings
Submission of Questions for Interview
Submission of Verbatim
Submission of Verbatim Analysis
Oral Presentation of Analysis
First, I am not your parent, your brother or your best friend; I am a
colleague in both teaching and learning. We need each other for this classroom
tribe to function.
Second, when you are not here, you will be missed [especially given the
size of our class]. Our community will be diminished. Sure, most of us
will miss a class [but remember to submit or work before the missed class
session]. But what happens when somebody misses more than three class
periods this semester?
As Convener of this Tribe, I will assume that you have found a new community
that requires your presence. So, due to my desire to live a life of total
compassion, I will deduct one letter grade from your final course grade
for each additional class period missed, thus encouraging you to be wherever
it is you need to be other than our class. Do not assume I will drop you
from this course; such a decision rests with you and your academic adviser.
I do not issue "make-up" exams. If you miss an exam, you will
receive a "Zero". Only exceptions to this policy:
1. Death of an immediate (e.g.; parent or sibling) family member. I will
require a copy of the obituary.
2. Personal illness requiring hospitalization. I will require proof of
hospitalization and a note from your physician.
Within this course you are encouraged strongly to utilize "inclusive
language". What does this term mean? When we speak of humanity, avoid
using the gender specific term "man" as a synonym. When you
speak of a particular god or goddess, use their proper name. Find ways
in which to demonstrate respect and dignity for all persons, both believers
ACCEPTANCE OF LATE WORK
I do not accept late work for credit. If you anticipate being absent for
any reason, submit work prior to our class session.
The syllabus can change at my discretion. Videos, readings and/or guest
speakers may also be added. Changes will be made to the online syllabus.
Extra credit does not exist in the course. Make use of the credit available.
"Trying hard" is usually necessary, but not sufficient, to create
good work. In short, I do not base a grade on "effort" but on
the finished product.
SCOLASTIC DISHONESTY AND THE HONOR COURT
As a student at Centenary College you agree to adhere to the Centenary
Honor Code. I will carefully explain the nature of plagiarism the first
day of class and, for each assignment, explain what is and is not permissible
in terms of collaboration. If you have any questions, please ask rather
than risk a problem. Also, I would advise you to retain all note cards,
drafts, final papers etc. for each assignment in your writing record in
case asked to prove your case. As explained in the Student Handbook, every
assignment you submit must have the following statement written in your
own handwriting accompanied by your signature: "I have neither given
nor received unauthorized aid on this paper (or examination), nor have
I seen anyone else do so." If you have received unauthorized aid
or witnessed an honor code violation, you must follow the statement with:
"...except as I shall report immediately to the Honor Court."
Please understand that I cannot grade any assignment lacking this honor
While there is an increasing number of web pages devoted to sociology
of religion, the information is often not reliable or better than what
is available in the library book and journal collections. Therefore, you
are not to use or cite any source from the Internet unless you have consulted
with the professor AND RECEIVED PERMISSION IN ADVANCE. IF ANY OF YOUR
PROJECTS FOR THIS CLASS MAKE UNAUTHORIZED USE OF THE INTERNET, YOU WILL
FAIL THE ASSIGNMENT. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. NO EXCUSES ENTERTAINED.
Notable exceptions: Online databases and any online reading indicated
in the syllabus. Also, online statistical calculators may be used.
PROOFREADING AND EDITING PAPERS
Each student is expected to proofread and edit their work carefully prior
to submission. I will deduct points for grammatical errors and violations
of the principles expressed on the Writer's Cheat Sheet. Special attention
should be given to eradicating "is", "are", "was",
"were", "has", "had" and "been"
from your formal writing.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILTIES
It is the policy of Centenary College to accommodate students with disabilities,
pursuant to federal law, state law and the College's commitment to equal
educational opportunities. Any student with a disability who needs accommodation
(for example, in seating placement or in arrangements for examinations,
should inform me at the beginning of the course. Students with disabilities
should contact Disability Services (a division of Counseling Services),
located on the ground floor of Rotary Hall (869-5466/5424).
CELL/SMART PHONE POLICY
Please turn off all cell phones/smart phones upon entering class. If your
phone rings once in the semester, you will simply be reminded of our policy.
If it rings a second time, you will be asked not to bring it back to this
space. You may not leave class to answer a call; doing so will count as
one of your allotted absences. Absolutely no texting during class. If
I see you sending a text, I will 1) ask you to put your cell phone away
and 2) count you as absent for the day.
Laptops, IPads and other tablet devices may be used in class for the explicit
purpose of taking notes. If you are caught surfing the Internet without
permission (or playing games) you will not be allowed to bring the device
to class for the remainder of the course. These rules will be enforced
strictly. You may audio-record any class session with the permission of
I am usually in my office by 8:15 AM Monday through Friday and leave at
4:15 each afternoon. You may schedule an appointment with me at any time
via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (869-5051). I will always be
glad to assist any student in fulfilling their obligations to this course.
My door is always open.
What is Religion?
What is the Sociology of Religion?
Approaches to Research
Macro-Perspectives: Functional and Conflict Theories
What is an Open-Systems Model?
Read Kurtz, Chapters One and Seven
Souls in Transition (I)
Read Chapters 1-5
Souls in Transition (II)
Read Chapters 6-10
Designing a Likert Scale Questionnaire and an Interview Protocol
based on Souls in Transition Click HERE Describing the Projects and assignments
Alternative Religious Movements
Dilemmas of Institutionalization: moving from ARM to sects,denominations
Sacred Canopy (I)
Read Chapters 1-4. Yes, I am aware this reading may appear challenging.
Look up any terms (especially Latin) that you do not know. Use this
pdf to assist you in terminology
Sacred Canopy (II)
Read Chapters 5-7
Durkheim and Functionalism (I)
Read Durkheim, Book One
Durkheim and Functionalism (II)
Read Durkheim, Book Two I
will distribute a copy of the instrument at the beginning of class.
You will be responsible to make 14 copies of the instrument.
Durkheim and Functionalism (III)
Read Durkheim, Book Three
Social Stratification and Religious Ideology
Case Study: Religion in the African American Community
David is out of town
MARDI GRAS BREAK
MARDI GRAS BREAK
Max Weber and the Spirit of Capitalism
Purity and Pollution (I)
Read Douglas, Chapters 1-3All
copies of the completed questionnaires should be submitted at the
start of class today. Make sure your name appears on each questionnaire.
Purity and Pollution (III)
Read Douglas, Chapters 4-7
Purity and Pollution (I)
Read Douglas, Chapters 8-10
Read Kurtz, Chapter 2
Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Read Kurtz, Chapter 3 I will
distribute the interview protocol for your use in Exercise 2. Excel
Sheet of raw data for Exercise 1 will be sent to you via email.
Ethos, Modernity and Multiculturalism
Read Kurtz, Chapters 4-5
Religious Movements for a New Century
Read Kurtz, Chapters 6
Religion and Prejudice
START PRESENTATIONS OF QUANITITATIVE
RESEARCH PROJECT. ALL PROJECTS DUE AT THE START OF CLASS.