„The Cross is not a Religious Symbol of Christianity“ – Sociology and Narratives of Religion Today
|Dozent/in||Dr. Jochen Töpfer|
The increasing level of attention given to religion in the public in general and especially in political debates is an obvious matter in European societies today. It seems that religious communities, as well as political and other social actors, were successful in keeping an important social role to religion in the modern societies of the continent. Shaping political debates and influencing attitudes of important parts of the population, these players, who act in the name of religion, remain a significant factor in the overall societal development. Which dimensions of society are affected and which narratives are employed? Is religion important at all in managing the political and other spheres of society today? In the end, was the paradigm of secularism wrong when it predicted a demise of religion in modern societies? The seminar is structured in three conceptional parts. First, an outline of current theories of sociology of religion is presented to in order to understand sociological perspectives on religious phenomena. The second part contains the analysis of various spheres of modern society regarded to be `outside` the religious, the political arena for example, and asks for the actors who use religious behavior and narratives here: which contents, forms and structures can be identified? The third part takes the view of religion and examines the reaction on this side towards modern forms of society and politics. Here, among other dimensions, we will analyze options and answers of the concerned religious elites – the main interpreter of religion – towards overall modernization and especially towards political instrumentalization. How do they outline their role and the role of religion in European societies today? In part two and three, students attending the course will learn to draw special attention to culturalist and constructivist patterns of explanation. The main goal of the seminar is to present guidelines in understanding the current situation of religion in various states in Europe and its relationships to other spheres of modern society, especially to the political arena.