Researching Religion

Why We Need Social Science

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Steve Bruce
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , October
     2018.
     256 pages.
     $35.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780198786580.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Verena Eberhardt forthcoming.

Description

Researching Religion: Why We Need Social Science establishes the relevance of social science for the study of religion and promotes a particular kind of social science. Even if we confine ourselves to academic disciplines, there are very many ways of viewing religion. Certain kinds of questions about religion can only be answered by the methods and approaches of social science: if one is interested in the social causes and consequences of religious belief and behaviour, then one has to do social science. Steve Bruce underlines the value of quantitative social research. He shows that while detailed ethnographies have enormous value in helping us get 'inside' religious belief and behaviour, they are severely limited by problems of scale and representativeness in their value for generating and testing explanations. While the primary focus is social research, the examples are drawn from studies of religious belief and behaviour, so it also presents a very large number of important observations about the nature of religion in the modern world. This book is an informative, concise reference for students trying to unpick quantitative religious research. It shows how to gather valuable research and avoid pitfalls.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Steve Bruce is Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen. His previous publications include Secular Beats Spiritual: The Westernization of the Easternization of the West (2017), Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory (2013), Paisley: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland (2007), Sociology: A Very Short Introduction (2000), and Choice and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice Theory (1999). He is also the editor of Bryan R. Wilson's Religion in Secular Society: Fifty Years On (2016).

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