Introduction to Sociology course

Chapter 13. Religion

How important is religion in your life? Why are people in some societies highly religious, whereas religion plays little role in other societies? The topic of religion has been one of the key topics studied by the founding fathers of sociology, such as Durkheim, Weber, Marx and Comte. In this meeting, you will see that the classical sociologists had rather similar ideas about religion. They supposed a deep and intrinsic connection between modernization and religion, such that, with increasing modernity, religious involvement declines. Today, more than 100 years after the classical sociologists developed their arguments, this idea is still at the core of the discussion in the sociology of religion. In this meeting, I guide you through this discussion, presenting the main questions, theoretical arguments and empirical findings in the sociology of religion.


Ch. 13 OverviewThe sociological study of religion
Ch. 13.5 Modernization and secularization
Ch. 13.6Existential insecurity theory

Power Point slides

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Further reading

Additional chapter resources

  • Secularization in Western Europe: Watch this highly instructive lecture from Prof. David Voas, on the secularization process in Europe and other western societies. Read this article on the rise of the ‘non-religious’ in Europe.
  • Existential insecurity theory: Read this article on covid-19 pandemic and religion as coping (here).
  • The Pew Research Center is an excellent source for data on trends, causes and consequences of religion and religiosity in the world (here).