This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion” edited by Andrew McKinnon and Marta Trzebiatowska (both at the University of Aberdeen, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
Religion lies near the heart of the classical sociological tradition, yet it no longer occupies the same place within the contemporary sociological enterprise. This relative absence has left sociology under-prepared for thinking about religion’s continuing importance in new issues, movements, and events in the twenty-first century. This book seeks to address this lacunae by offering a variety of theoretical perspectives on the study of religion that bridge the gap between mainstream concerns of sociologists and the sociology of religion.
Following an assessment of the current state of the field, the authors develop an emerging critical perspective within the sociology of religion with particular focus on the importance of historical background. Re-assessing the themes of aesthetics, listening and different degrees of spiritual self-discipline, the authors draw on ethnographic studies of religious involvement in Norway and the UK. They highlight the importance of power in the sociology of religion with help from Pierre Bourdieu, Marx and Critical Discourse Analysis. This book points to emerging currents in the field and offers a productive and lively way forward, not just for sociological theory of religion, but for the sociology of religion more generally.
This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Religion Italian Style: Continuities and Changes in a Catholic Country” by Franco Garelli (University of Turin, Italy). The publisher’s description follows:
Italy’s traditional subcultures – Communist, Socialist, Liberal, Republican, Right-wing – have largely dissolved and yet Catholics have retained their vitality and solidity. How can the vast majority of Italians continue to maintain some connection with Catholicism? How much is the Italian situation influenced by the closeness of the Vatican?
Examining the religious condition of contemporary Italy, Religion Italian Style argues that the relationship between religion and society in Italy has unique characteristics when compared with what is happening in other European Catholic Countries. Exploring key topics and religious trends which question how the population feel – from the laity and the role of religions in the public sphere, to moral debates, forms of religious pluralism, and new spiritualities – this book questions how these affect religious life, and how intricately religion is interwoven with the nation’s fabric and the dynamics of the whole society.
In October, Bloomsbury Publishing released “Post-Materialist Religion: Pagan Identities and Value Change in Modern Europe” by Mika T. Lassander (Abo Akademi University, Finland). The publisher’s description follows:
Post-Materialist Religion discusses the transformations of the individual’s worldview in contemporary modern societies, and the role general societal value change plays in these. In doing so, Mika Lassander brings into conversation sociological theories of secularisation and social-psychological theories of interpersonal relations, the development of morality, and the nature of basic human values. The long-term decline of traditional religiosity in Europe and the emerging ethos that can be described as post-secular have brought religion and values back into popular discussion. One important theme in these discussions is about the links between religion and values, with the most common assumption being that religions are the source of individuals’ values. This book argues for the opposite view, suggesting that religions, or people’s worldviews in general, reflect the individual’s priorities.
Mika Lassander argues that the transformation of the individual’s worldview is a direct consequence of the social and economical changes in European societies since the Second World War. He suggests that the decline of traditional religiosity is not an indication of linear secularisation or of forgetting traditions, but an indication of the loss of relevance of some aspects of the traditional institutional religions. Furthermore, he argues that this is not an indication of the loss of ethical value base, but, rather, a change in the value base and consequently the transformation of the legitimating framework of this value base.
In January, Ashgate Publishing will release “Public Funding of Religions in Europe” edited by Francis Messner (University of Strasbourg). The publisher’s description follows:
This collection brings together legal scholars, canonists and political scientists to focus on the issue of public funding in support of religious activities and institutions in Europe. The study begins by revolving around the various mechanisms put in place by the domestic legal systems, as well as those resulting from the European law of human rights and the law of the European Union. It then goes on to look at state support and particular religious groups.
The presentation of European and national law is supplemented by theoretical and interdisciplinary contributions, with the main focus being to bring into discussion and map the relationship between the funding of religions and the economy and to infer from it an attempt at a systematic examination or theorization of such funding.
This collection is essential reading for those studying Law and Religion, with particular focus on the countries of the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey.
This September, Reaktion Books published “The Papacy in the Modern World: A Political History” by Frank J. Coppa (St. John’s). The publisher’s description follows:
For some two millennia the papacy has presided over the governance of the Roman Catholic Church and played a fundamentally important role in European and world affairs. Its impact has long transcended the religious realm and has influenced ideological, philosophic, national, social and political developments as well as international relations. This book considers the broad role of the papacy from the end of the eighteenth century to the present and the reaction and response it has evoked over the years, and explores its confrontation with and accommodation to the modern world.
Frank J. Coppa describes the triumphs, controversies and failures of a series of popes from Pius VI to Benedict XVI, including Pius IX, who was criticized for his ‘syllabus of Errors’ of 1864, his campaign against Italian unification and his proclamation of papal infallibility. Pius XII, on the other hand, was denounced for what he did not say – mainly his silence during the Holocaust and his impartiality during the Second World War. Pope John XXIII, by contrast, has been praised for his aggiornamento, or call for the updating of the Church, and for convoking the Second Vatican Council. This original history sheds new light on the papacy by examining sources only recently made available by the Vatican archives, offering valuable insights into events previously shrouded in mystery.
In December, Ashgate Publishing will release “Atheism and Deism Revalued: Heterodox Religious Identities in Britain, 1650-1800” edited by Wayne Hudson (Charles Sturt University), Diego Lucci (American University in Bulgaria), and Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth (Red Deer College). The publisher’s description follows:
Given the central role played by religion in early-modern Britain, it is perhaps surprising that historians have not always paid close attention to the shifting and nuanced subtleties of terms used in religious controversies. In this collection particular attention is focussed upon two of the most contentious of these terms: ‘atheism’ and ‘deism’, terms that have shaped significant parts of the scholarship on the Enlightenment.
This volume argues that in the seventeenth and eighteenth century atheism and deism involved fine distinctions that have not always been preserved by later scholars. The original deployment and usage of these terms were often more complicated than much of the historical scholarship suggests. Indeed, in much of the literature static definitions are often taken for granted, resulting in depictions of the past constructed upon anachronistic assumptions.
Offering reassessments of the historical figures most associated with ‘atheism’ and ‘deism’ in early modern Britain, this collection opens the subject up for debate and shows how the new historiography of deism changes our understanding of heterodox religious identities in Britain from 1650 to 1800. It problematises the older view that individuals were atheist or deists in a straightforward sense and instead explores the plurality and flexibility of religious identities during this period. Drawing on the most recent scholarship, the volume enriches the debate about heterodoxy, offering new perspectives on a range of prominent figures and providing an overview of major changes in the field.
This December, Princeton University Press will release “Being German, Becoming Muslim: Race, Religion, and Conversion in the New Europe” by Esra Özyürek (London School of Economics). The publisher’s description follows:
Every year more and more Europeans, including Germans, are embracing Islam. It is estimated that there are now up to one hundred thousand German converts—a number similar to that in France and the United Kingdom. What stands out about recent conversions is that they take place at a time when Islam is increasingly seen as contrary to European values. Being German, Becoming Muslim explores how Germans come to Islam within this antagonistic climate, how they manage to balance their love for Islam with their society’s fear of it, how they relate to immigrant Muslims, and how they shape debates about race, religion, and belonging in today’s Europe.
Esra Özyürek looks at how mainstream society marginalizes converts and questions their national loyalties. In turn, converts try to disassociate themselves from migrants of Muslim-majority countries and promote a denationalized Islam untainted by Turkish or Arab traditions. Some German Muslims believe that once cleansed of these accretions, the Islam that surfaces fits in well with German values and lifestyle. Others even argue that being a German Muslim is wholly compatible with the older values of the German Enlightenment.
Being German, Becoming Muslim provides a fresh window into the connections and tensions stemming from a growing religious phenomenon in Germany and beyond.
On November 12-13, the Faculty of Law, Canon Law, and Administration at John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), along with The Polish Catholic Institute “Sursum Corda,” will be hosting an international conference entitled “The Presence of the Cross in the Public Spaces of the European States.” The conference will discuss the legal approaches taken by the European Union and specific member states of the European Union to the issue of religious symbolism in public spaces.
Details can be found here.
This December, Palgrave Macmillan Press will release “Politicization of Religion, the Power of State, Nation and Faith: The Case of Former Yugoslavia and its Successor States” edited by Gorana Ognjenovic and Jasna Jozelic (University of Oslo). The publisher’s description follows:
There is a great difference between a war being categorized as “religious” and religion being politicized for the purpose of achieving a political goal. However it can at times be hard to tell difference between the two. It can be especially hard to do so when the difference between “pretend to be” and “is” is obscured almost to a point beyond recognition. Volume one analyzes the mass production and use of counterfeit religious symbolism used for political purposes. Volume two of this book focuses more on the actual practical application of the symbolism within the context of state, nation and faith: the use of counterfeit religious symbolism to blur the essential distinction between “what is a real danger to a nation” and “what is not.”
In November, Routledge Press will release “Religious Expression in the Workplace and the Contested Role of Law” by Andrew Hambler (University of Wolverhampton, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
The workplace is a key forum in which the issue of religion and its position in the public sphere is under debate. Desires to observe and express religious beliefs in the workplace can introduce conflict between employees and employers. This book addresses the role the law plays in the resolution of these potential conflicts.
The book considers the definition and underlying motives of religious expression, and explores the different ways it may impact the workplace. Andrew Hambler identifies principled responses to workplace religious expression within a liberal state and compares this to the law applying in England and Wales and its interpretation by courts and tribunals. The book determines the extent to which freedom of religious expression for the individual enjoys legal protection in the workplace in England and Wales, and asks whether there is a case for changing the law to strengthen that protection.
The book will be of great use and interest to scholars and students of religion and the law, employment law, and religion and human rights.