Sociology Of Religion

Essays in the History of Religions
by Joachim Wach

Sociology Of Religion

The Nature and Aims of a Sociology of Religion

Like other sociological disciplines -- the sociology of art or of law -- the sociology of religion is the offspring of two different scholarly pursuits, the study of society and the study of religion.1 Its character, methods, and aims reflect this parentage. In addition to the problems which the sociology of religion inherits from the two parental disciplines, it has its own peculiar difficulties and tasks. That is to say, sociology of religion shares with the sociology of other activities of man certain problems and, in addition, has its own due to the peculiar nature of religious experience and its expression. (The theory of religious experience is to be worked out by the philosopher, theologian,, and psychologist in cooperation with the student of religion.)

The sociology of religion is a young branch of study, not more than half a century old. That does not mean that major contributions toward an inquiry into the nature of socioreligious phenomena were not made long before, but as an organized systematic discipline (emancipated from the older disciplines in and from which it developed) the sociology of religion is of recent date. Earlier contributions were made by students in widely different fields: theology, philosophy, philology, jurisprudence and the social sciences, and later archeology and anthropology. A great deal of material was thus gathered, particularly in the course of the nineteenth century, and periodically grouped and reviewed from theological and philosophical, psychological and sociological viewpoints. What was lacking, at least until the beginning of the twentieth century, finally evolved through the cooperation of a group of outstanding scholars of different nationalities: categories with which to organize the vast material assembled. The sociology of religion had to develop its own methodology based on an unbiased examination of the nature of its subject matter.

Before we can survey attempts in this direction we have to trace briefly some of the major trends in the development of studies to be integrated into a systematic sociology of religion. It is perhaps significant that the exchange of ideas and mutual interdependence between the scholars of various nations -- American, English, Dutch, French, German, Scandinavian -- in this discipline has been as strong as, if not stronger than, in other fields of sociological research.


The Emergence of a Sociology Of Religion By Cooperative International Efforts of Different Schools

The French Sociology of Religion

The French sociology of religion was characterized all through the nineteenth century by the dominance of the tenets of the philosophy of history as sociology, as developed by Auguste Comte and his successors.2 Its course, methodology, and aims were determined by students of sociology, not by those of religion. It was conceived in a broad, encyclopedic attempt to review the life and growth of society; it was determined by the interest in an application of "scientific" methods ("laws") to sociohistorical phenomena including religious ideas and institutions (theory of stages of development), and finally by the endeavor to include the material gathered in anthropological and ethnological research. Theological and metaphysical norms were to be replaced by positivistic principles. That is, positive philosophy was to set the norms for the organization of life and society. According to this conception, mankind is not only the subject but also the object of religion.

The first trend of modern French sociology of religion is marked by the well-known works of Emile Durkheim3 and other contemporary writers: Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Marcel Mauss, and so forth. Durkheim’s concept of sociology is characterized by a marked emancipation from the tenets of Comte’s philosophy of history as sociology (sociology as a method) and by a corresponding tendency toward construction of a typology of social groupings, in which he included religious communities. In his concept of the nature of religion he agrees with Comte. His chef d’oeuvre, Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, applies the categories of a typological sociology to the data of primitive religious communities. Levy-Bruhl concentrates his attention upon the psychological investigation of group consciousness in primitive society.4 L’Année sociologique for over a decade formed the center of studies in the sociology of religion.

A second trend is indicated by the synthetic studies of a number of French scholars such as Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges and E. F. A. Count Goblet d’Alviella, and more recently Arnold Van Gennep and Paul Foucart.5 In their writings certain concepts, rites, and institutions fundamental to religious group life are analyzed and compared. Inasmuch as these authors did not limit themselves to a discussion of primitive society, though they did concentrate on non-Christian religions, a rapprochement between sociological and socio-psychological studies, on the one hand, and the efforts of the school of "comparative religions" (F. Max Mueller, C. P. Tiele, W. Robertson Smith), on the other, was effected. The latter investigations were carried on by a school of students of religion who aspired to emancipation from theological conceptions, working for the establishment of a science of religion on the basis of the critical (historical and philological) and comparative methods.

The third trend is characterized by (1) a clearer methodological consciousness concerning the field, purpose, and method of the sociology of religion; (2) a profounder understanding of the nature of religious communion; (3) a rapprochement between students of religion from theological and philosophical points of view, and of students of society.6 Outstanding are the works of Raoul de la Grasserie and H. Pinard de la Boullaye, S. J., of Roger Bastide and Robert Will. The last phase reflects to a considerable extent the influence of the German sociology of religion of Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch (particularly the studies of Robert Will).

To Pinard de la Boullaye we owe the best existing history of the study of religion and a thorough discussion of its methods, including the sociological approach. He gives attention to the social organization of religion and to the problem of authority. The work of de la Grasserie is more important than is often realized. It is characterized by a keen systematic interest, by relative absence of the preconceptions of the positivistic school, and by comprehensiveness of material. Though he presses the analogy of the religious body with the physical organism and though his concept of the "divine society" is open to criticism, de la Grasserie does offer helpful categories for the understanding of "external religious society," and particularly of the "societies to the second power," as created by prophets and saints. The relations between religious and civil societies receive his attention. Bastide’s brief summary extends the field of the sociology of religion too widely; only one chapter ("L’organisation religieuse") deals with its tasks as we will have to define it. The most comprehensive treatment of the subject in French is now Robert Will’s volumes on the nature and forms of cults with which this author, who was familiar with Will’s outline in German, agrees on many important points. The study makes the threefold assumption that man, in his cultic functions, faces God, the world of cultic forms, and the religious community. It presents first an analysis of man’s communion with God ("communion in God"), including a review of the main types of cultic activity (sacrifice, mystery, prayer) and of religious attitudes (mystery and revelation on the divine side, adoration and edification on the human side). Second, it offers an inquiry into the principles (causes, laws, values), the forms (media, personnel, action, and atmosphere), and finally the general sociological categories of religious communality, in virtual if not conscious agreement with the theories of Scheler, Litt, and Mead. This exposition is followed by an analysis of the cultic group and its milieu and symbols. Lack of space precludes a detailed discussion of Will’s system in this context.

German Sociology of Religion

(a) Philosophical preoccupation with the various types of cultural activities on an idealistic basis (Johann Gottfried Herder, G. W. F. Hegel, Johann Gustav Droysen, Hermann Steinthal, Wilhelm Wundt); (b) legal studies (Aemilius Ludwig, Richter, Rudolf Sohm, Otto Gierke); (c) philology and archeology, both stimulated by the romantic movement of the first decades of the nineteenth century; (d) economic theory and history (Karl Marx, Lorenz von Stein, Heinrich von Treitschke, Wilhelm Roscher, Adolf Wagner, Gustav Schmoller, Ferdinand Tonnies); (e) ethnological research (Friedrich Ratzel, Adolf Bastian, Rudolf Steinmetz, Johann Jakob Bachofen, Hermann Steinthal, Richard Thurnwald, Alfred Vierkandt, P. Wilhelm Schmidt), on the one hand; and historical and systematical work in theology (church history, canonical law -- Kirchenrecht), systematic theology (Schleiermacher, Richard Rothe), and philosophy of religion, on the other, prepared the way during the nineteenth century for the following era to define the task of a sociology of religion and to organize the material gathered by these pursuits.7 The names of Max Weber, Ernst Troeltsch, Werner Sombart, and Georg Simmel -- all students of the above-mentioned older scholars -- stand out. Weber fostered more than anybody else the investigation of the relation between economics and society, on the one hand, and religion, on the other -- typologically and historically in Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie and systematically in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Troeltsch, concentrating on the Christian world, presented his comprehensive studies of Christian groups and their social and moral concepts (Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen). To Sombart we owe extensive treatment of the development of forms of economical and correlative social and religious concepts.8 In Georg Simmel’s Soziologie the first consistent attempt at a purely formal sociology was made; in his sociology of religion Simmel follows Durkheim.9 After World War I a new generation of sociologists (Karl Dunkmann, Leopold von Wiese,10 Alfred Vierkandt, Ottmar Spann) and of students of religion, both Protestant and Catholic (Romano Guardini, G. Gundlach, Johann Baptist Kraus) -- the most outstanding of which was Max Scheler11 -- followed the lead of the older generation (cf. "Erinnerungsgabe für Max Weber"), joined by Scandinavian and Dutch scholars (especially Gerardus van der Leeuw, whose work is one of the most important contributions to the comparative study of religions between the two wars, and Hendrik Kraemer). The philosophical and historical work of Wilhem Dilthey, himself averse to establishing an independent sociological discipline, proved to be important systematically and epistemologically (Theodor Litt, Joachim Wach).12

With the advent of National Socialism the official philosophical and racial teachings of the Third Reich, prepared by its ideological forerunners, began to make themselves felt in all disciplines concerned with the study of religion and of society. (Cf. the later volumes of the Archiv für Religionswissenschaft). No significant contribution in our field can be listed.13

English Sociology of Religion

In England the development of legal and historical studies (Henry Sumner Maine, Frederic William Maitland, Paul Vinogradoff, Ernest Barker) coalesced with anthropological (Edward Burnett Tylor, John Lubbock, Andrew Lang, James George Frazer) and psychological research (Robert Ranulph Marett, Graham Wallace, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown). 14 In philosophy the empirical and naturalistic school (John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer) as well as the idealistic (Thomas Hill Green, Bernard Bosanquet) focused their attention on the problems of the nature and development of society. The concept of evolution (Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Walter Begehot, Edward Westermarck) and the methodology of positivism (Thomas Buckle) had far-reaching influence. Though the task of a sociology of religion has never been as clearly and systematically defined as in France and Germany, great contributions were made in England through the cooperation of the students of the gradually emerging sociology (Leonard T. Hobhouse, Morris Ginsberg, Robert M. MacIver) and of the study of history (Charles H. MacIlvain and John N. Figgis) and of economics (C. C. J. Webb, Richard Tawney) with students of religion interested in the problems of social theology. Anglican and Nonconformist theologians, philosophers, and writers (Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Frederic Dennis Maurice, Charles Kingsley), especially the Christian Socialists, were interested in the normative aspect of the problems of religion and society.15 In the younger generation several of these trends are blended: William Temple, John MacMurray, Maurice B. Rickett, Vigo A. Demant.16 Max Weber’s influence in England never reached as deep as in France or the United States; it remained limited to his theories on economics. On the other hand, the studies in "comparative religion," stimulated by the untiring efforts of Max Mueller, were cultivated at Oxford and Cambridge in close contact with continental archeological, philological, and historical investigations (Ernest Crawley, Gilbert Murray, Jane Harrison, Frank Byron Jevons, E. O. James). 17

North American Sociology of Religion 18

In the United States interest in the sociology of religion was stimulated by the encyclopedic tendencies of the earlier sociologists (William Graham Sumner, Albert G. Keller, Edward A. Ross)19 and by the work of historical and systematical social theology (Francis G. Peabody, Charles A. Ellwood, Shailer Mathews, Shirley J. Case). The movement of the Social Gospel focused the attention of students of religion on social phenomena from a normative point of view.20 The peculiar problems of American denominationalism (Heinrich H. Maurer, H. Richard Niebuhr, William Warren Sweet, Paul Douglass)21 are reflected in the interest in socioreligious statistics (William F. Ogburn) and urban-rural studies (Robert E. Park, Ernest W. Burgess, Carle C. Zimmerman and H. P. Douglass, Edward de S. Brunner, John H. Kolb).22 Catholic scholars have shown their interest by critical and positive investigations supplemented by philosophical reflection.23 Cultural anthropology, experiencing an unprecedented development in the United States, contributed immense and valuable material on ideas, customs, and institutions of primitive peoples, and, to a considerable extent, categories with which to order it (Daniel Brinton, Franz Boas, Alfred Kroeber, Clark Wissler, Paul Radin, Bronislaw Malinowski, Robert H. Lowie, Ralph Linton).24 Social psychology began to form a bridge between sociological and psychological studies (James Mark Baldwin, Wm. McDougall, R. E. Park, George H. Mead, Ellsworth Faris, Charles A. Ellwood).25 Philosophical (John Dewey, George H. Mead, Olaf Boodin, William E. Hocking, Edgar Brightman)26 and sociological theory and analysis (Mark Baldwin, Charles H. Cooley, Ellsworth Faris, R. M. MacIver, Howard Becker, Talcott Parsons) prepared the way for an understanding of socioreligious organization, while detailed sociological analysis of relevant phenomena27 was carried on by William I. Thomas, Florian Znaniecki, M. E. Gaddis, Arthur E. Holt, Samuel Kincheloe, W. Lloyd Warner, and others.28 Max Weber’s influence is felt in the synthetic studies of William F. Albright (From Stone Age to Monotheism).29 A systematic treatment of the problems of the sociology of religion has been undertaken more recently with broad perspective by Pitirim Sorokin and, influenced by Weber, Troeltsch, and Dilthey, by Joachim Wach.

Sociology of Religion and Allied Fields

As with other fields of sociological research the question has been asked if there is good enough reason to treat socioreligious phenomena separately instead of handling them in the traditional disciplines (theology, philosophy, anthropology, etcetera).30 Yet, as against such doubts, the work done by modern scholarship has proved the right to an independent existence of "sociology of religion." The interdependence of this branch of studies with others, however, is not only historically conditioned but has its raison d’être in the nature of its subject matter. There has been much discussion whether the sociologist of religion is right in viewing his material from a special point of view and handling it according to a special method, or whether he has a more or less well-circumscribed field which he can call his own. The first concept seems to lead to unending controversy, and it is indeed doubtful if the application of just a viewpoint or method could justify the setting up of a separate discipline of studies. Though the sociologist of religion makes use of a specific method --paralleled by that employed in other branches of applied sociology -- he is in the position to claim a distinct group of phenomena as his own. Although religious group life, the very subject he attempts to study, can also be examined from theological and juridical viewpoints, it can be shown that when the work of all these disciplines is accomplished, there still remains a task to be done.


Controversial Issues and Criticism

In the definition of aims, methods and limits of the new discipline there is still, in spite of growing unification and concentration, disagreement on a number of major points.


Opinion is divided as to whether sociology of religion should be a normative or descriptive science, and, if the latter, to what extent sociology of religion can and ought to be descriptive. Historically, sociology of religion -- as general sociology --originated from both the growing social consciousness in the wake of the industrial development in the modern western world and of its social consequences, and the failure of the official academic philosophy and theology to take this development into account. The situation in Catholicism differed from that in Protestantism. So it is not surprising that considerable confusion prevailed at first, which was partly due to terminological difficulties and partly to a dissensus on the question of aim and method. As sociology came to mean a weapon of aggression for some, others, bent on the defensive, wanted a "religious," "Christian," or "Protestant" sociology. They all agreed that the aim of sociology of religion was to establish norms. As previously indicated, it took considerable time for the development of the concept of a descriptive sociology of religion, implying that the establishment of norms was the concern of the theologian, philosopher, and social theoretician. In the meantime, the newly emerging discipline was suspected by many -- and not without reason to be guided by ulterior motives and by intentions hostile or a least indifferent to religious claims. This problem will be discussed below. Even among scholars who conceive of the study of the interrelation of religion and society as primarily a descriptive task, there are quite a few who do not deny the normative interest which ultimately (originally and finally) dictates the inquiry. But they feel that in order to make the results more than subjective impressions, preferences, or evaluations, chances for verification of the results must be given. That implies abstinence -- at least methodical -- and temporal -- from all subjective evaluation and the use of all the methodological and critical tools which have been developed in the humanities in the course of the nineteenth century. Yet they would feel not justified in regarding their result as the last word of wisdom but would very definitely expect an appreciation and evaluation which puts these results in the proper perspective of a unified system of knowledge, philosophy, or theology; and it is irrelevant whether the latter task is performed in personal union with that of description so long as the integrity of the latter is guaranteed. The question is not so much whether it is possible, justifiable, or advisable to have a viewpoint or standpoint from which to pass such judgment but rather where the proper place for introducing it ought to be.

As long as the topics to be dealt with are removed from the investigator’s immediate interest and concern, the difficulties seem to be not so great. There is no reason why a Roman Catholic, a Protestant, and, say, a Marxist student should not concur in their study of American Indian ceremonial, Babylonian mythology, or Buddhist ethics. But the difficulties are greater if the topic were the causes of the Reformation or the nature of the sect. Yet we like to believe that, though there is a Catholic and a Marxian philosophy of society, there can be only one sociology of religion which we may approach from different angles and realize to a different degree but which would use but one set of criteria. Divergence of opinion is caused not so much by the variety and difference of the views on society as by those on religion. Though it seems by no means necessary to have identical concepts of the nature and function of religion, it is desirable not to be determined by antipathy or sympathy to the degree which would make an objective investigation impossible. Objectivity does not presuppose indifference, just as sympathy or antipathy does not necessarily disqualify one for an unbiased examination according to the historical or critical method. Once the possibility of understanding a religion different from our own in time and space is admitted, there is no reason why the student can not try to apply the principles of investigation in all instances.


A few words might be said about the role of the comparative method in the study of socio-religious phenomena. In the second half of the nineteenth century the importance of comparison as a help to the understanding of the subject of humanistic studies became recognized. The science of religion was no exception. For a while the unlucky term "comparative religion" (for comparative study of religion) was extremely popular. Everything was compared to everything else, superficial similarity passing frequently for identity. Now there can be no doubt that analogies can be very helpful for the interpretation not only of religious concepts and rites, but also of forms of religious organization. Yet it must be understood that individual features have to be interpreted as part of the configuration they form and that it is dangerous to isolate them from the context in which they occur.


This leads us to another methodological problem which we have had occasion to touch upon previously. The hermeneutical principle of understanding configurations as meaningful wholes warrants a further conclusion. Religious ideas, rites, and forms of organization have a meaning to which the sociologist of religion has to do justice, just as has the historian or psychologist of religion. In other words, concepts like Communion of Saints, Familia Dei, etc. want to be understood with their full intention. We will realize it in paying attention to the interpretation which is given these terms in the group which acknowledges them. This realization does by no means imply assent, for the normative quest is excluded; rather it enables the interpreter to understand the phenomenon in the context in which it belongs. The sociologist of religion must give his most serious consideration to the self-interpretation of any religious group he studies.

Value and Validity

We come now to one of the most difficult and delicate problems of the methodology of our field which has caused a great deal of discussion and misunderstanding. The failure to find an adequate solution has more than anything else prevented for a long time a fruitful cooperation between students of sociology and of religion. (There is little comfort in the observation that a very similar situation prevails in the relation of psychology to the science of religion).

It is understandable that the idealistic emphasis on the efficacy of spiritual motives and forces, ideas, and energies in the philosophy and history of the early nineteenth century led to a reaction which urged students of social life and development to concentrate on the opposite viewpoint according to which spiritual developments have to be regarded as products of material conditions (Feuerbach, Marx, Engels, against Hegel). There was definitely some justification for correcting a one-sided interpretation of the social "roots" and conditions out of which in the history of man religious concepts and institutions have grown and are growing. The mistake begins when this relation is interpreted in deterministic terms and when the conclusion is drawn that a statement on the (social) origins and conditions of an idea or phenomenon means or implies an answer to the question of its value or validity. It continues and gets worse when the reverse, the shaping of social factors, conditions, and orders by spiritual (religious) forces is overlooked or denied, as we find it in a legion of modern studies more or less dedicated to economic determinism.

The crucial term which is of the greatest importance in this context is "ideology." What is meant by designating certain religious concepts of a cult group ("brotherhood," "communion of saints") as "ideology"? The Marxian understanding is that they are, thus labeled, "debunked," shorn of any claim to validity, that they are, psychologically speaking, illusions. Others would not go so far but feel inclined to interpret ideologies as ideas originated from and hence in their validity limited to a certain sociological sphere. Max Scheler, the creator of the modern "sociology of knowledge," has coined the term relationism -- as distinct from relativism -- for this theory. It certainly will appeal more than the former interpretation to anyone who identifies himself, traditionally or on his own decision, with any one religious value or a system of religious values. Yet this theory seems also to conflict with the claims of universal validity which are characteristic certainly not of all but of a great part of religious messages, interpretations, and systems. This contradiction is, however, more apparent than real. Does the teaching of an Isaiah or a Luther, even if "explained" sociologically, really lose any of its validity? It does not seem so. Even if it could be shown that economic or general social conditions in a given society have prompted a desire for deliverance, the ideas of redemption that may be included in a religious message are not invalidated by an inquiry into their social "background," provided we do not conceive of the relation in deterministic terms but consider conditions as a framework which may include a variety of contents. We feel that an understanding of the origins, the development, and the meaning of the teachings, practices, and organization of a religious group to which the sociologist of religion tries to contribute, would not only not interfere with but would actually intensify the loyalty of the members of the group. Once the suspicion is removed that the sociologist has an axe to grind and that he is bent on demonstrating the illusionary character of religious ideas and concepts when inquiring into their sociological background, the cooperation of science of religion and sociology of religion will be more fruitful. The interpretation of the meaning of concepts, acts, and behavior given by devout individuals or groups may or may not agree with the findings of the historian, psychologist, or sociologist. The members of a group may deceive themselves as to the primary motives prompting them to think, act, or feel as they do. The case is simple where the ideological, philosophical, or theological justification for a type of rule (e.g.) is a front behind which lust for domination and ambition for power hide. Here the official ideology and the actual state of things obviously do not coincide. But the problem is frequently much more difficult, as psychologists (Jung) and social philosophers (Nietzsche, Sorel, Pareto, Spengler) have shown that the analysis of the social conditioning of ideas and convictions, though in itself not entitling to decisions as to their validity or invalidity, may contribute to the realization of the partial character of views or intentions expressed in them. "The function of the findings of sociology of knowledge lies somewhere in a fashion hitherto not clearly understood, between irrelevance to the establishment of truth on the one hand, and entire adequacy for determining truth on the other."31 The idea of the particularization of the validity of expressions of religious experience will have to be followed out in epistemology and in the theory of religious experience.

Empiricism Vs. Apriorism

Another point on which opinions are divided is the question of which of two approaches should be used by the sociologist of religion, the empirical or the aprioristic. One group of scholars advocates the first, gathering data without regard to any scheme or any preconceived idea of the phenomenon in question. An extreme example is the statistical school. The other extreme is represented by students who like to start with a given, "intuited," or deduced concept of, for example, the nature of prayer and sacrifice or of sin and grace. It is easy to see that we are here not really confronted with an alternative because the empiricist can not wholly dispense with categories with which to organize his facts, nor can his opponent forego documentation and illustration of ideas by empirical (historical) facts. Flesh and bones -- both are indispensable, neither an unorganized mass nor a mere skeleton would be satisfactory. The typological method, which has been advocated by a number of sociologists of religion, serves the function of bridging the gap between the two extremes: the richer and finer it is developed the more it will serve to combine wealth of detailed information with keen structural analysis.

Individualism vs. Collectivism

A disagreement exists also between the advocates of an individualistic and those of a collectivistic view of society and of religion. More than in the case of the previously mentioned alternatives, questions of principles are involved here. While some are inclined to view the process of civilization and of religious growth as a progressive realization of the infinite value of the individual, others are inclined to give priority to the whole before its parts and to consider as central in religion acts constituted by communal worship. Again we are not really faced by an alternative. The sociologist of religion will realize that it is rather a question of emphasis; individual expression and pecularity being present already on the level of so-called primitive civilization and communal worship playing a most important part in the highest forms of religion and culture.

Identity of Influence

In anthropology, one of the neighboring sciences, a long controversy developed between the advocates of seemingly alternative attempts to explain similarities of thought and behaviour patterns in less advanced cultures and societies. One school -- both sides are represented in each, French, English, German and American research -- is inclined to interpret all such similarities as the result of historical influences. The other sees in them the indication of an identical constitution and endowment of man. Inasmuch as the sociologist of religion is confronted with the necessity of accounting for apparently identical or similar patterns in religious behavior, ideas, and forms of organizations on different cultural levels, he is interested in a constructive solution of the apparent dilemma. Observation and reflection, however, will tell him that he is not faced with a true alternative. He will distrust all hasty assumption of equality as long as there is a change of historical derivation from other sources while not refusing to allow for independent growth and development of religious concepts and institutions under analogous conditions and circumstances. (Not enough attention has been paid to Rudolf Otto’s paper "Das Gesetz der Parallelen in der Religionsgeschichte," which outlines his theory on the "convergence of types").

The Place of Statistics

Though there can be hardly any doubt that a full yet cautious use of statistics can be of great use to the sociologist of religion, there has been, at least until recently, a difference in practice between continental and American students. The former have been and are more reluctant to make extensive use of the statistical method: the latter have placed during the earliest decades of the twentieth century a not quite justifiable overemphasis on this approach. Whereas some authors of the former groups arrive at a priori-constructions lacking the broad basis of verifiable facts, the latter school seems to be too reluctant to give that interpretation to their findings which alone can make them really meaningful.

Doctrine and Cult

In the science of religion as it began to take shape since the middle of the nineteenth century a controversy developed regarding the significance and the primacy of different types of expressions of religious experience. The problem of chronological and axiological priority of theory (myths, beliefs, ideas, concepts, doctrines, dogmata) and practice (worship, rites, ritual) in religion was discussed by students of different religions and civilizations (W. Robertson Smith, Andrew Lang, Wilhelm Schmidt, Otto Gruppe). The sociologist of religion is vitally interested in striking the right balance and placing adequate emphasis on the various types of expression. As against intellectualism he will insist on the central nature and function of worship in its various aspects, named by some the very core of religion; to any neglect and underestimation of the rational expression of religious experience he will have to protest by demonstrating its significance as vehicle of the self-interpretation of the religious community. He does not see any necessity to argue for chronological priority of either of the two aspects, bearing in mind their interrelation and mutual stimulation.


Inter-Relation of Religion and Society

Sociological studies in religion will have to include the whole width and breadth of mankind’s religious experience. For practical purposes, the individual sociologist, who has special intents in mind, may have to concentrate on a problem or problems of a given period of the history of civilization and religion, in a specific area or group. In principle, however, no type of devotion or phenomenon of religious significance should be excluded. If the system of the sociology of religion is not broad enough to include them all, something must be wrong with it.

The student of religion must acquaint himself with the research of the sociologist. The latter examines the foundation of society --that is, the total and specific environment of the social being in both its positive and negative effect -- and psychologically and sociologically meaningful attitudes, as manifested in communality. He analyzes all forms of societal organization and association (typology of communities). He studies the constructive and destructive social forces which determine the dynamics of social life and the patterns of social change, transformation, and revolution in relation to the physical, mental, cultural, and technical environment. Research in abstracto and in concreto supplement each other: general categories are verified in historical and empirical documentation, and individual phenomena are interpreted in the light of such categories.

The student of religion can be expected to supply the sociologist with a working theory of religious life and its manifestations. He is concerned with the theologico-philosophical, epistemological, psychological, phenomenological and historical analysis of the nature and meaning of religion and with the forms of expression of religious experience and the dynamics of religious life. Systematic inquiry into the forms and contents of belief, worship, and rites will be based on the study of the religious act and its motivation and meaning. It will be focused on the problem of religious communion and will do justice to the wide variety of types of communal religious life and activity.

The historical and systematical analysis of the inter-relation between religion and general as well as specific environmental factors and conditions (physical, cultural, social) can be successfully undertaken only by close cooperation of the student of religion with the student of society. The former will have to avail himself of the categories worked out in sociological research; the latter will have to give careful attention to the meaning of religious language and terminology. A threefold meaning will have to be recognized: first, the actual meaning of any work and concept, sometimes obscured by tradition and age; secondly, the religious implications of terms like sin, repentance, grace, redemption, etc.: thirdly, the concrete, individual "theological" interpretation given to the term in a religious community (by individual religious leaders). On this basis religious acts like adoration, prayer, and the conduct and attitudes of a cult group will have to be interpreted. There is no hope of grasping the spirit and of understanding the life, symbolism, and behavior of a religious group so long as no serious attempt is made to correlate the isolated traits (concepts, rites, customs) observed with a notion of the central experience which produces them.

As indicated above, systematic and historical approaches are both necessary for the study of the religious group, the former aiming at the construction of types of sacred communion, the latter attempting to embrace all the variegated forms religious fellowships have shown under different ethnic, historical, cultural, and social conditions. Worship in the home may serve as a simple example. Irrespective of profound differences in general and special environment, cultural level and religious level, the rites conducted in the "homes" of the American Indian, the Egyptian, the Chinese, or the German or Englishman of the sixteenth century have certain features in common, as compared with public, congregational ceremonies. Further proof of the fruitfulness of combined systematic and historical inquiries can be found in the discovery of many similarities in the religious implications of the beliefs and ceremonials at all times surrounding the sacred rules in vastly different societies, as well as in a parallel disinclination to corporate rites with mystics in practically all great civilizations.

We shall now list the main tasks of a sociology of religion:

The Study of the Interrelation of Religion and Society

What are the main points of contact? Analysis of the nature and structure of society as well as of religion is carried out in the disciplines dedicated to this purpose (general sociology, theology, and philosophy of religion). Inasmuch as it is an interaction which is examined, justice must be done to the influence both of society on religion, and of religion on society.

(a) "Religion" means both experience and its expression in thought and action -- in concepts, forms of worship, and organization. It is essential to correlate the expression with the experience to which it testifies. The influence of social forces, structures, and movements on the expression of religious experience is more easily ascertained than their effect upon the experience itself. While some conceive of it in terms of determinism, others are inclined to emphasize the autonomy and independent dynamics of religious life.

A wide field is open for the sociologist of religion in the examination of the sociological roots and functions of myths, doctrines and dogmas, of cultus and association in general and in particular (hic et nunc). To what extent are the different types of the expression of religious experience in different societies and cultures socially conditioned (technological, moral, cultural level)? What is the contribution of social forces to the differentiation of religious life and its forms? To what extent does the latter reflect social stratification, mobility, and differentiation (division of society according to sex, age, occupation, property, rank and prestige)? What of the social background and origins of religious movements and of the leaders and their congregations? What does religion contribute to the integration and disintegration of social groups? How do ecological factors influence the religious community?

Through the ages different ethnic groups have developed in the different geographical areas of the world. Societies have been formed in these areas by these groups. Their activities resulted in the formation of cultures. With the development of culture, differentiation within the different societies increased; hence the sociologist of religion has to take into account the temporal, regional, ethnic, cultural and social factors. The research of the archaeologist, historian and philologist supplies him with material for the study of religious groupings from the beginnings of history to the present day. He is aware of the difference of the anthropogeographical milieu (climate) in which these groups evolved. He learns from physical and cultural anthropology about the variety of physical, mental and spiritual endowment and development of the different ethnic groups. Again the historian, the sociologist, and political scientist lend him material for the examination of historical societies and civilizations from the point of view of his interest.

The five continents are broken down into smaller regional, cultural and social areas, down to village, house, and family units. The periods of world history are divided into epochs, each of which is accentuated by the growth and decline of historical cultures and societies; in each of these shortlived tribal units have succeeded each other in the domination of a given region or section of the populated earth, either simply co-existing or vying with each other for temporary or semipermanent superiority.

What has been the role of religion in these narrowly defined units? Again it is not the historical question of sequence and development, of motive and effect which the sociologist of religion is called upon to answer. He is interested in crosssections and in the analysis of structures, in extracting the typical from the empirical details.

He will not omit considering any primitive society, the study of which may contribute to his knowledge of the sociology of primitive religion in whatever period or area or ethnic context it may be found. He will include all that is known of ancient and medieval and modern Oriental cultures and societies (Near, Middle and Far East) and extend his examination of Western society and cultures back beyond the classical world finally to include the successive types developed in the various great periods of the Christian era down to this day. Registering the rise and growth of religious groups, he will proceed to analyze their nature, structure, and constitution and will thus contribute to the typological understanding of religiously motivated grouping. He will compare instances where religious concepts, forces, and personalities effected subtle or far-reaching changes and transformations in the cultural and social context in which they occurred. He will study the activities of religious leaders and groups, forms of action and response, and with the help of the psychologist will ascertain their meaning and motivation. He will be arrested by the similarity, though not the identity, of patterns of behavior, thought, and reaction under often widely different conditions and circumstances, and he will untiringly contribute to a more comprehensive and profound knowledge of the typology of religious thought and feeling, religious ideas, institutions, religious theory and practice.

(b) The sociologist is interested in the sociologically significant function and effect of religion upon society. Granted that religious forms and institutions, like other fields of human and cultural activity, are conditioned by the nature, atmosphere, and dynamics of a given society, to what extent does religion contribute to the cohesion of a social group and to the dynamics of its development and history? It should be borne in mind that because religion conceived of as a vital force transcends its expression, it cannot be unreservedly regarded as one among many spheres of cultural activity. Some are inclined to look upon it as the fountainhead or the matrix of all cultural and social activity of a group of human beings. The theory of the identity of religion with the sum total of man’s cultural and social life does not do justice to its peculiar nature. Careful analysis of causes of cultural and social changes reveal the part religion plays in the fomentation of the revolutionary and evolutionary development of society. Of all varieties of social life and grouping within a given society, religious associations of a peculiar and not of the traditional type will arrest the attention of the student. The growth and decline of specifically religious organizations and groups is a theme of the greatest importance to the sociologist as well as to the historian of religion. He will investigate the nature and typology of these groups, their structure, and their constitution. Size, character, purpose, relation to the other groups, leadership of the specifically religious group will have to be investigated. What is the function of the different expressions of religious experience in integrating it? Why do these groups present a variety of different forms of organization, and how is the latter related to the self-interpretation of the group?

The Religious Group

The religious group is characterized by the nature and order of the basic relationships of its members: in the first place, that of each member to the numen; in the second place that of the members to each other. The sociologist of religion will have to examine the character of this twofold relationship in the case of each individual group because the nature, intensity, duration, and organization of a religious group depends upon the way in which its members experience God, conceive of, and communicate with Him, and upon the way they experience fellowship, conceive of, and practice it. Inasmuch as religious communion conversely strengthens religious faith and action, we find a circle -- however, not of a vicious nature. The sociologist of religion, interested in the study of a cultic group, cannot be satisfied with reviewing its theology as the foundation of the theory and practice of fellowship among its members. He must probe further, studying the religious experience on which theology and other modes of expression (behavior, rites, language) are based. More than other types of association, a religious group presents itself as a microcosm with its own law, outlook on life, attitude and atmosphere. Wherever political, artistic, scientific, or other groups exhibit comparable cohesion and comprehensiveness, they usually can be shown to be of a semi-religious nature. Altogether too frequently students of religious communities have been satisfied to juxtapose findings as to beliefs, customs, and patterns of organization regarded as representative, without correlating them to the central attitudes and the norms characteristic of the group. Yet it is essential to realize that religious communities are constituted by loyalty to an ideal or set of values which is the basis of their communion. In other words, a religious group should not be regarded as just a fellowship of persons drawn together by mutual sympathy of common interest, or even by common ideas and customs. While these factors enter in, they are not basic.

Certain religious communities have been described as units in which parallelism of spontaneity rules. They are not really typical, but rather exhibit a minimum of what it takes to form a religious community.

Next to loyalty to an ideal or values postulated by the central religious experience from which the group springs, the degree of intensity of its religious life is decisive. That, too, is at times overlooked by those who are inclined to evaluate the significance of a religious group exclusively by its size and structure. Intensity is a dynamic quality; it will frequently change, it will rise and fall. It is characteristic of some religious groups to sustain a certain, perhaps high, degree of intensity developed early in their history and maintained at an even level, while others pass through varying phases. The intensity of religious experience may find special expression in some one doctrine or practice, or occasionally in several.

In the earlier stages of the study of religious psychology, French, German and American scholars unfortunately concerned themselves primarily with marginal cases of pathologically developed religious temperament. The sociologist of religion must beware of falling into the same error in overemphasizing random phenomena (eccentric forms of sectarianism, etc.) The historical beginnings of religious and sectarian communities, however, are important fields for investigation of the mediums through which religious experience finds expression. The size of a religious group deserves the attention not only of the statistician, but also of all those who believe that a very different psychology typifies the masses on the one hand and intimate circles on the other. The size of the group, however, may be determined entirely by chance and circumstance.

With the group there is a distinction between those members who will engage in religious activity from personal choice or in deference to tradition such as converts and parishioners of a local congregation, and those who are actively religious -- temporarily or consistently -- such as lay-deacons or the participants in a procession. Interest can be both passive and active, the latter being exceedingly diversified in form, purpose, means, and duration.

The ideals and values uniting the group may be considered in the first place as the formulation of desires and aspirations, derived from a basic religious experience. As such they have expressive significance. Secondly, they serve as symbols or standards for the religious community. Thirdly, they render expansion, missionary propaganda, and conversion possible by their communicative value. Finally, they serve to integrate the religious community which binds itself to them. They may be either spontaneously formulated, or acknowledged as tradition (successions of waves of conversions and of generations of followers).

More concretely, all religious groups are united by certain convictions -- the acknowledgment of the ideals and values just mentioned -- formulated loosely or concisely in statements of faith or doctrinal creeds, by certain cultic acts which tend to develop and strengthen their communion with the deity (rites, sacraments), and by a cultivation of a fellowship in the spirit of the ideals professed. The larger the group, the more the need for a renewed and possibly more intimate grouping may be felt. The sociology of the religious group of the second power, to use de Grasserie’s terminology (collegia, associations, brotherhoods, oratories and the like), offers a wide open field and should be developed much more than it has been hitherto. Inasmuch as the growth of religious fervor in élite religious groups may lead to hierarchical development (order, sect), the sociologist of religion may combine his study of intensity and size with that of the structure of the group. For this task the criteria elaborated in general sociology will prove helpful. Yet a warning should be voiced against too unguarded an application of terms and viewpoints derived from the sociological study of other human activities.

Two examples will illustrate this point. Observing the practice of a cultic group, the outsider may be inclined to compare the "control" exercised by a religious leader to that in political or economic organizations without realizing that obedience may in each case be very differently motivated, and that it hence may not be really the same thing. Again the term "behavior" is often enough made to cover a variety of forms of conduct, without regard for the intention distinguishing them. Both paying taxes and sharing out of religious motives with one’s brother are ways of handing out money, but how differently the acts are motivated and how different the "value"!

The greatest differences and varieties can be found in the structures of religious groups.

Though we possess many excellent monographs on the historical development of an infinite number of cults, there is room for much more extensive and intensive study of the typology of the constitutions of religious communities. Corresponding to the twofold level of religious organization, the natural and the specifically religious bases, the order of cultic communities varies. In the first instance and frequently in the second, it is patterned after "secular" models (the father as leader of a cult-group, tribal organization paralleled by cultic set-up). But it may also develop its own forms (monasticism, egalitarianism). The study of the structures of religious groups should be carried on without prejudice in favor of one or the other principle of organization, e.g., the charismatic as against the hierarchical, or vice versa -- and application of the general methodological requirement discussed above. Historical orientation should be supplemented by typological investigation.

Constitution may refer to a loose, temporary, undifferentiated set-up, or -- with many intermediate stages -- to a highly stratified and comprehensive order. The structure of the religious as of most other groups is determined by the division of functions. Such a division is practically ubiquitous from the simplest to the most complex cultic associations. It may consist in an individual occasionally or permanently taking over functions, duties, and responsibilities, with or without corresponding rights, honors, and privileges (prestige).

The degree of differentiation of functions does not necessarily depend upon the general cultural level. Elaborate specialization is found in less advanced societies (West African, Polynesian) and in higher cultures (even in non-conformist Protestant and certain sectarian groups). The process of differentiation of functions within the group may involve specifically religious activities exclusively or may have a broader scope. It may be initiated, recognized, and justified on a pragmatic basis ("useful," "necessary") or on grounds of principle (metaphysical basis, theological explanation). A wide and little cultivated field is open to the investigator in the comparative study of the differentiation of functions, especially in the narrow sense (function in the cultus). Another is the study of the social background and situation of the members composing the group, these factors having a bearing on its nature and structure particularly in the case of transitory phenomena (meeting, festival). The social origin of the group and the composition of its constituency pose two different problems.

Still another is the analysis of the "atmosphere" and the spirit prevailing. There is a sociological basis for the Christian teachings on the "Holy Spirit" and its communication.32 The atmosphere can be determined by a careful investigation of the central values acknowledged, the attitudes prescribed and practiced in the community, and the development through which it has gone.

What constitutes a church, a denomination, a sect, a society, a confraternity? What is the significance of gradation, authority, order in a religious community? The sociologist of religion will have to answer that question on the basis of broad theological and juridical, historical, psychological, and sociological information. What is the (theological) self-interpretation of the nature and significance of its fellowship, is the first question. The second concerns the historical origin and development, the third, the prevailing spirit (intensiveness, exclusiveness, broadness, compromise) and the general attitude toward the world (identification, withdrawal, critical acceptance, consecration). The student will take into account the immanent development within the cult-community and the impact of outside influences and outside patterns and examples. He will examine the role of intimacy to the first, second, and third power (examples: the circle of Jesus’ followers, the renewed intimacy on the basis of the experience of the sixteenth century Reformers, the Pietist group of the seventeenth century, etc.) As far as the constitution of religious groups is concerned we find a variety of principles. There is a subjective and an objective viewpoint. That is, in principle, a community may be universal; actually it may be limited to a certain social, racial or local group of people. There are furthermore universal and selective groups. Changes occur in which nationally or racially limited groups -- this limitation may be objective or subjective -- are transformed into universal communities. Conversely a universal orientation may be qualified by national, social, or other criteria, as in the case of the national religious bodies in Eastern and Western Christianity, in Islam, and in Buddhism. Various degrees of this "qualification" can be observed (relative isolation, language, youth-problem). The sociologist will be interested in exploring the relationship prevailing between the different subgroups.

Differentiation within the religious group can be conditioned in two ways: by religious and by extra-religious factors. As far as the former is concerned we find a considerable amount of variableness in the nature, intensity, and color of the unifying, basic religious experience, shades or differences in theoretical (belief, myth, doctrine) and practical (worship, activities) expression. They make for differentiation within the practice, tradition, and organization of a religious community in certain periods, locally and otherwise, particularly if combined with the second factor. Extra-religious influences making for differentiation are represented by technical, cultural, social, economic developments, resulting in social stratification according to differences of sex and age, property, occupation and status. Sociologists have here a very important and rewarding task in exploring the effects of these differences upon the religious group. The transformation of devotional attitudes, of concepts, rites and institutions, the rise of new and the decline of old ideas and practices under the impact of these factors with respect to the different religious bodies has not been sufficiently investigated.

The problem of authority, with all its implications, has to be discussed. More comparative study of the foundation upon which authority is supposed to rest, the forms which it may take, the methods by which it works, its execution and its delegation, are necessary. Typologies of religious charisma (founder, prophet, priest, etc.) as outlined by Max Weber, A. Causse, G. van der Leeuw and J. Wach, should be worked out in much the greater detail. The theory of personal and official charisma will prove very fruitful; it has recently, been applied to the study of primitive society, Indo-European and Hebrew religion, and medieval Christianity.

General and Specific Sociology of Religious Groups

In contrasting origin and development, nature and purpose, structure and attitudes of the religiously motivated group with that of other types of grouping, the sociologist will attempt to define its general characteristics. Although there is room for doubt if such procedure would do justice to the individuality of the historical phenomenon, that is, of the group hic et nunc, it must be pointed out that parallelisms and similarities exist which call for investigation. The following examples will illustrate what we mean by such similarities: (1) the general motivation of sharing certain common religious experiences, the differences in content in the latter notwithstanding; (2) the nature of the acts whereby they are expressed; (3) the process of crystallization of religious fellowships around charismatic leadership; (4) the general pattern of the development from simple into complex structures; (5) comparable types of religious authority and of attitudes in religious audiences; (6) parallelism in the reaction of types of cult groups to their environment; (7) differentiation of functions within the group according to general criteria (age, sex, property, occupation, rank).

These parallelisms and resemblances might pertain to a limited number of groups, to be defined by these very similarities (from two to any number), or they may extend from a large number to practically all groups of special type, or to religious groups in general. Types may be defined geographically, chronologically, ethically, culturally, or religiously. Thus, the motive of the urge to spread the faith may identify one religious group with many others, while its absence (limitation or rejection of propaganda) distinguishes it from another. Some cult-communities owe their existence primarily to missionary societies, orders, etc., in different religions. Some are of a militant character manifested in the means employed and in their "ideology" in general; others are quieter, more contemplative in nature. In both cases the religious motive is decisive. A great number of Hindu religious groups have some general convictions in common, notwithstanding divergences in theology and cultus; some share forms of devotion, which, however, may be addressed to different deities, and so forth. Christian sects exhibit attitudes which, if contrasted to those of other religious organizations, offer striking parallels. Some use rites not known to others within the same brotherhood of faith, such as the washing of feet, unction, the kiss of peace.

A satisfactory and distinctive nomenclature will have to be worked out by the student of the general sociology of religious groups. Terms and categories should preferably be familiar, rather than fanciful new creations ("hierology," "hierosophy," etc.). Yet mistakes must be avoided which may arise from the application of a technical term developed in a distinctive historical, social, cultural, or religious context to a wider range of phenomena.

It is the task of general sociology to investigate the sociological significance of the various forms of intellectual and practical expression of religious experience (myth, doctrine; prayer, sacrifice, rites; organization, constitution, authority); it falls to the specific sociological study to cover sociologically concrete, historical examples: a Sioux (Omaha) Indian myth, an Egyptian doctrine of the Middle Kingdom, Murngin or Mohammedan prayer, the Yoruba practice of sacrifice, the constitution of the earliest Buddhist Samgha, Samoyed priesthood, etc. Such studies should be carried out for the smallest conceivable units (one family or clan, a local group at a given period of time, the occasional following of one cult leader, etc.). There is no danger of this task turning into a historical, psychological, anthropological, theological undertaking, because the sociological viewpoint will be the decisive one. Thus the philologist would ascertain the meaning of a passage of the Indian Atharva-Veda; the historian would assign it to a period in the cultural, political, and religious development of the Hindu; the psychologist would concentrate on its origin and significance as an expression of feeling and thought; and the anthropologist would deal with it from a folkloristic point of view. The sociologist is interested in its origin and formation, in the structure and meaning of the Hindu community of faith. There can be some doubt as to how the work of the special sociologist of religion should be organized, that is, in which order he would proceed best. Inasmuch as research is carried on in a number of related disciplines, there is no hope that what is most needed always will be taken up first. However, the angles which ought to be of paramount concern to those interested in the systematic development of our field are the temporal, the spatial, the ethnic and cultural, and the religious viewpoint.

(a) The sociologist is interested in religious groups of the past and the present. Though contemporary conditions may claim his attention from the pragmatic point of view, the investigation of phenomena of even the remote past ought not to be neglected (sociology of ancient cults, everywhere). In this emphasis normative philosophy or theology of society on the one hand, and descriptive sociology on the other, differ.

(b) Notwithstanding his interest in the socio-religious situation of the society of which he is a member, the student of religious groups cannot afford to exclude from his range of effort a concern with religious grouping in all parts of the populated earth. Because everything that exists is worth knowing -- though not to the same extent -- no religious group established anywhere should be omitted in these studies.

(c) The same is equally true of ethnic divisions, cultures and societies. Within a chronological and spatial framework, each tribe and people, each culture and society will find its place. Naturally not all can claim the interest of the student to the same extent as those which stand in a closer or looser relation to the culture or society under investigation. But as long as socio-religious conditions in a major cultural context remain unexplored, the work is not done.

(d) It is understandable that in a Christian society Christian groups will appear the major, though certainly not the exclusive subject of interest to the sociologist of religion. As he is obliged to include all forms of Christian communities, so he will have to extend his studies over the whole field of non-Christian religious grouping in all its varieties. It may be advisable to proceed, if the special viewpoint warrants it, from the nuclear topic interest to wider and wider contexts; to include the study of religious groups, historically or phenomenologically related to Christianity (Greek, Roman, Hebrew), to those typologically similar (Mystery religions, Buddhism), and finally to those of a radically different character. As far as Christian groups are concerned, a great deal remains to be done to bring the investigation of the "lesser" groups up to date. Attention has for a long time been concentrated on all forms of "official" religion, while religiously and sociologically important and interesting groupings within or without have been neglected. Of the non-Conformist groups only the "spectacular" ones have attracted attention. The study of creeds and rites must be supplemented by a thorough examination or organization and constitution, in theory and practice. In this context we have to repeat that the exploration of historical origin and development is no substitute for systematic and typological study.

Selected Bibliography

James, E. O., The Social Function of Religion (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1940).

Linton, Ralph, The Study of Man (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936).

Niebuhr, H. Richard, The Social Sources of Denominationalism (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1929).

Pinard De La Boullaye, Henri, S. J., L’étude comparée des religions (Paris: Gabriel Beauchesne, 1922, 1929, 2 vols.).

Sorokin, Pittrim A., Social and Cultural Dynamics (New York: American Book Co., 1937-1941, 4 vols.).

Troeltsch, Ernst, The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1931).

Van Der Leeuw, Gerardus, Religion in Essence and Manifestation (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1938), Sec. II, B.

Wach, Joachim, Sociology of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944).

Wallis, Wilson D., Religion in Primitive Society (New York: F. S. Crofts and Co., 1939).

Weber, Max, Gesammelte Aufsäze zur Religionssoziologie (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1920-1921, 3 vols.).

Weber, Max, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1921), Sec. III, Chap. IV, "Religionssoziologie."

Wiese, Leopold von, and Howard Becker, Systematic Sociology (New York: John Wiley and Sons; London: Chapman and Hall, 1932).

Will, Robert, Le culte (Paris: Féix Alcan, 1925 - 1929).



1. For a broader exposition of the concept of the sociology of religion, as advocated here, and for illustrations from different religious faiths and groups, and more inclusive bibliography, see Joachim Wach, Sociology of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944).

2. Cf. Henri Pinard de la Boullaye, S. J., L’Etude comparée des religions (Paris: Gabriel Beauchesne, 1922, 1929, 2 vols.); Simon Deploige, The Conflict between Ethics and Sociology (Saint Louis, Mo.: B. Herder Book Co., 1938).

3. Emile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method, 8th ed. tr., edited by G. E. G. Catlin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938); Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1937), Part II, chaps. X-XII, and "Theoretical Development of the Sociology of Religion," Journal of History of Ideas, 5 (1944):176ff.

4. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, L’Expérience mystique et les symboles chez les primitifs (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1938); Les Fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1928); La mentalité primitive (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931); trans. L. A. Clare (London: Allen & Unwin; New York: Macmillan, 1923); The "Soul" of the Primitive, trans. L. A. Clare (New York: Macmillan, 1928); Le surnaturel et la nature dans la mentalité primitive (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1931).

5. Arnold Van Gennep, La formation des legendes (Paris: E. Feauncarion, 1910); Eugene Comte Goblet d’Alviella, Introduction à l’histoire générale des religions (Brussels: Mozbach & Falk, 1887); Croyances, rites, institutions (Paris, 1911); Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, La cité antique, 20th ed. (Paris: Hachette, 1908); Paul Foucart, Les mystères d’Eleusis (Paris: A. Picart, 1914).

6. Raoul de la Grasserie, Des religions comparées au point de vue sociologique (Paris: V. Girard & E. Brière, 1899); Roger Bastide, Eléments de sociologie religieuse (Paris: Armand Colin, 1935); Robert Will, Le culte (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1925-1929); cf. also Annales Sociologiques B. Sociologie Religieuse, ed. Marcel Mauss and M. Granet (Paris: F. Alcan, 1939); Pinard de la Boullaye, L’Etude comparée. The author did not have occasion to do full justice to the modern French school of sociology of religion in his own recent contribution (note 1), because some works were not available to him.

Cf. also Robert K. Merton, "Recent French Sociology," Social Forces, 12 (1933):537ff.

7. Cf. Wach, Sociology of Religion; Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1920-1921); Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1921), Sec. III, chap. IV, "Religionssoziologie"; Ernst Troeltsch, The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches (New York: Macmillan, 1931); Leopold von Wiese and Howard Becker, Systematic Sociology (New York: John Wiley & Sons; London: Chapman & Hall, 1932); Erich Rothacker, Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1920); Wach, Einleitung in die Religionssoziologie (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1930); Theodore Abel, Systematic Sociology in Germany (New York: Columbia University Press, 1929); Talcott Parsons, Structure of Social Action, Part III.

8. Der moderne Kapitalismus (Munich and Leipzig: Duncker & Humboldt, 1928); trans. Nussbaum, A History of Economic Institutions of Modern Europe (New York: F. S. Crofts, 1933).

9. Sociologie (Berlin: Duncker & Humbolt, 1925); Nicholas J. Spykman, The Social Theory of Georg Simmel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925).

10. Wiese and Becker, Systematic Sociology; Wiese, Sociology, ed. Franz H. Mueller (New York: Oscar Piest, 1941).

11. Unfortunately Scheler’s books are not translated. Cf. bibliography and discussion by H. Otto Dalke, "The Sociology of Knowledge," in Harry E. Barnes and Howard Becker, eds., Contemporary Social Theory (New York: D. Appleton-Century Book Co., 1940), chap. IV.

12. Cf. Alexander Goldenweiser, "The Relation of the Natural Science to the Social Sciences," in ibid., chap. V.

13. Cf. for a survey: Alfred Krauskopf, Die Religion und die Gemeinschaftsmächte (Leipzig: B. C. Teubner, 1935); Eva Hirschmann, Phänomenologie der Religion (Wurzburg: Konrad Triltsch, 1940). Gustav Mensching, Vergleichende Religionswissenschaft (Leipzig: Hochschulwissen, 1938) was not available to the author.

14. Robert M. McIver, "Sociology," in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 14:232-247; Ernest Barker, The Citizen’s Choice (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1937); R. R. Marett, Tylor (London: Chapman & Hall, 1936); Ernest B. Harper, "Sociology in England," Social Forces, 11 (1932):325 ff.

15. Cyril K. Gloyn, The Church and the Social Order (from Coleridge to Maurice) (Forest Grove, Oregon: Pacific University, 1942); William Peck, The Social Implications of the Oxford Movement (New York: Chas. Scribner’s Sons, 1932).

16. John MacMurray, Creative Society (New York: Association Press, 1936), and The Structure of Religious Experience (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1936); Maurice B. Rickett, Faith and Society (New York and London: Longmans, Green, 1932); Vigo A. Demant, God, Man, Society (London: Morehouse, 1934).

17. Floyd N. House, The Range of Social Theory (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1929), chap. XVIII, "The Sociology of Religion."

18. William F. Ogburn and Alexander Goldenweiser, The Social Sciences and Their Interrelation (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1927); Floyd N. House, Range of Social Theory; Earle E. Eubank, "The Field and Problems of the Sociology of Religion," and Arthur E. Holt, "The Sources and Methods of the Sociology of Religion" in L. L. Bernard, ed., The Fields and Methods of Sociology (New York: Ray Long and R. R. Smith, 1934); Barnes and Becker, Contemporary Social Theory, especially chap. XXIII; Barnes and Becker, Social Thought from Lore to Science (Boston: D. C. Heath and Co., 1938).

19. Howard W. Odum, American Masters of Social Sciences (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1927).

20. Shailer Mathews, "The Development of Social Christianity in America," in Religious Thought in the Last Quarter Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1927); James Dombrowski, The Early Development of Christian Socialism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936); Charles H. Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1940); Aaron 1. Abell, The Urban Impact on American Protestantism, 1865-1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1943).

21. William W. Sweet, Religion in Colonial America (New York: Chas. Scribner’s Sons, 1942); J. L. Neve, Churches and Sects in Christendom (Burlington, Ia.: Lutheran Library Board, 1940); H. Richard Niebuhr, The Social Sources of Denominationalism (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1929). See also works cited in note 22.

22. Publications of the Institute for Social and Religious Research, especially those of Harlan Paul Douglass, Edward de S. Brunner and J. H. Kolb. Cf. also above, note 15; F. Ernst Johnson, Christianity and Society (Nashville, Tenn.: Arlington Press, 1935); E. W. Burgess, The Urban Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925); Robert E. Park, E. W. Burgess, and R. D. McKenzie, The City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925); Ezra Dwight Sanderson, Rural Sociology and Rural Social Organization (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1942); S. C. Kincheloe, The American City and Its Church (New York: Missionary Education Movement, 1938).

23. The Catholic University of America Studies in Sociology, especially nos. II, VI, and VII: Edward J. Kiernan, Arthur J. Penty, His Contribution to Social Thought, No. II, 1941; Roberta Snell, The Nature of Man in St. Thomas Compared with the Nature of Man in American Sociology, No. VI, 1942; W. T. O’Connor, Naturalism and the Pioneers of American Sociology, No. VII, 1942.

24. Robert H. Lowie, An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1941); Ralph Linton, The Study of Man (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936); Franz Boas, General Anthropology (Boston: D. C. Heath & Co., 1938); Alexander Goldenweiser, Anthropology (New York: F. S. Crofts, 1937); Wilson Wallis, An Introduction to Anthropology (New York: Harpers, 1926); Eliot D. Chapple and Carleton S. Coon, Principles of Anthropology (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1942); Albert Muntsch, Cultural Anthropology (New York: Bruce Publishing Co., 1936).

25. Otto Klineberg, Social Psychology (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1940); R. T. La Pierre and P. R. Farnsworth, Social Psychology, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1942). Excellent criticism is given by Herbert Blumer, "Social Psychology," in Emerson P. Smith, ed., Man and Society (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1937), chap. IV.

26.; Edgar S. Brightman, A Philosophy of Religion (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1940).

27. William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (Boston: Gorham Press, 1918-20); cf. Herbert Blumer, An Appraisal of Thomas’ "The Polish Peasant in Europe and America" (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1939); Ellsworth Faris, "The Sect and the Sectarian," in The Nature of Human Nature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938); Liston Pope, Millhands and Preachers, A Study of Gastonia (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1940); Raymond J. Jones, A Comparative Study of Civil Behavior Among Negroes (Washington: Howard University, 1939); Arthur H. Fauset, Black Gods of the Metropolis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944); J. F. C. Wright, Slava Boku, The Story of the Dukhobors (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1940); Ephraim Ericksen, The Psychological and Ethical Aspects of Mormon Group Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922); Edward Jones Allen, The Second United Order among Mormons (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936); Robert Henry Murray, Group Movements Through the Ages (New York: Harper & Bros., 1935); David Ludlum, Social Ferment in Vermont, Columbia Studies in American Culture, No. 5 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939).

28. Cf. above, note 21, and William Lloyd Warner and Paul S. Lunt, The Social Life of a Modern Community and The Status System of a Modern Community (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1941, 1942); for the non-Christian world: John F. Embree, Sure Mura, A Japanese Village (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), chap. VII.

29. W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1942); see also Pitirim A. Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics (New York: American Book Co., 1937-1941).

30. See, for the following paragraphs, the references in notes 17 and 27.

31. Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, p. 256.

32. Edwin E. Aubrey, "The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Religious Community," Journal of Theological Studies, 45, 1940.