About the discipline
The sociology program at MU is geared toward improving life in communities, especially those that are considered vulnerable. Some of the problems that communities face are cultural in the sense of a strong diversity in religious or ethical differences that act as barriers rather than bridges between people. Understanding religious differences can help bring about social change. The Center’s focus on religious literacy in the form of training and education can be a valuable tool for communities with high amounts of diversity.
Family relationships: As our culture grows increasingly diverse, there are more challenges and issues of differences involving religion. The differences are now not only between families, but also within families, as children choose to marry outside of faith or abandon the faith in which they were raised. Learning how to strengthen communities from within in a culture that values religion will become a tougher task for the practitioner as diversity increases. This intra-family exchange also will have an effect on public life. Improved literacy about religion in both contexts helps people become more educated about our differences in a way that builds up communities, making them stronger and more efficient.
Practitioners who understand the religious climate in which families operate can build trust with the family, better understand a family’s needs and help provide better social services. This may include knowledge of the language the family uses or customs about generational seniority, health care or views toward accepting help, based on their religious or cultural beliefs. Policies can recognize differences, champion diversity and promote cultural awareness, as families of all types and backgrounds continue to shape today’s culture.
Workplace relationships: Business bonds also have the potential to strengthen communities both in terms of economic opportunity and in relationship building. The Center is working to educate those in the professions about the types of religious diversity they will face in the workplace to make workplaces and communities stronger. Seeing those smaller communities as building blocks for the community at large can give a sociology researcher a chance to partner with the Center or researchers in other disciplines to do work that advances these aims.
Global and community relationships: Sociologists and social workers can look to religious groups for areas to study or models of social service in both a local and global setting. Religious groups often spearhead intervention in impoverished areas to improve quality of life. Some efforts are evangelistic in nature, others are not overtly so. Intervention ranges from health-care outreach and food boxes in local communities to providing medical care and building homes, improving sanitation and teaching indigenous people sustainable agriculture and new enterprises to overcome poverty at a global level.
Leadership: Leadership in local, state and federal social service is crucial, as policy matters affect resources available to individuals and families. Leaders in social services may want to work with or look to religious groups for assistance in understanding and fulfilling community needs. Religious leaders often have contact with a community and organizational skills that can be useful to sociologists studying the community and social workers serving the community.
Center projects: Fellows with the Center for Religion, the Professions & the Public have done research measuring religiousity/spirituality and: well-being among elderly whites, African-Americans and American Indians; social support and well-being among people living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities; social support and rural elderly individuals; and social support and psychological well-being among older adults in rural areas.
The Center worked with MU sociologists to design a survey of 400 citizens’ experience with professionals on matters related to religion and spirituality, as well as a parallel survey focused on professionals from eight professions. The Center is applying for a National Institutes of Health grant to study spirituality and health risk behaviors in adolescents, through its Spirituality and Health research project.
Use of media: The Center’s affiliation with the School of Journalism can be of interest to a researcher in sociology. The media can be a tool for education and empowerment, performing “bridging and bonding” roles in communities. Researchers can look at how religious literacy can be enhanced through media coverage or strategic communication campaigns in a way that can cause change in communities.
A current research project focuses on how to use media to better inform African-American women about breast cancer examinations. Religious institutions can act as clearinghouses for information and be distributors of material about health campaigns and other social services. Research could examine how changes in media coverage patterns help change communities.
Issues today: Researchers can compare and contrast the needs of families and individuals in rural and urban settings, and how these different settings may utilize religion similarly or differently to solve social problems. Coursework and training can be implemented that teaches practitioners about working with families in settings or languages with which they are familiar, to build trust and better understand specific religious beliefs and needs.
Researchers could look at the role of religious organizations in providing social services. What percentage of social services such as food for hungry families, addiction counseling, help finding homes, child care or health clinics are provided through religious institutions? How much do one’s religious beliefs play a role in the sense of responsibility for one’s community? Do the presence of houses of worship help define community? Researchers can work with the Center on inter-disciplinary projects to study and improve awareness in these areas.
- “Battered Black Women’s Use of Religious Services and Spirituality for Assistance in Leaving Abusive Relationships” Hillary Potter. Violence Against Women. Vol. 13, No. 3 (2007): 262-84.
- “Beyond Beliefs: Religion and the Sociology of Religion in America” by David Yamane. Social Compass. Vol. 54, No. 1 (2007): 33-48.
- “Beyond the Nuclear Family? Familism and Gender Ideology in Diverse Religious Communities” by Penny Edgell and Danielle Docka. Sociological Forum. Vol. 22, No. 1 (2007): 26-51.
- “Disabling Beliefs? Impaired Embodiment in the Religious Tradition of the West” by Nichola Hutchinson. Body and Society. Vol. 12, No. 4 (2006): 1-23.
- “Ethical integration of faith and practice in social work field education: A multi-year exploration in one program” by H. Harris. Religions. 8 no. 9 (2017).
- “Exploring the Links Between Spirituality and ‘Successful Ageing’” by Euan Sadler and Simon Biggs. Journal of Social Work Practice. Vol. 20, No. 3 (2006): 267-80.
- “Faith-Based Mental Health Interventions with African Americans: A Review” by Krystal Hays and Maria P. Aranda. Research on Social Work Practice. 26 no. 7 (2016): 777-789.
- “If a Holistic Approach to Social Work Requires Acknowledgement of Religion, What Does This Mean for Social Work Education?” by Beth R. Crisp. Social Work Education. 30 no. 6 (2011): 663-674.
- “Including Spirituality in the Social Work Curriculum: Perspectives from South Asia” by Sampta P. Pandya. Social Work Education. 34 no. 6 (2015): 729-746.
- “Is Discrimination Against Evangelical Christians a Problem in Social Work Education?” by Rebecca M. Bolen and Adrienne B. Dessel. Journal of Social Work Education. 49 no. 4 (2013): 528-547.
- “It Never Came Up’: Encouragements and Discouragements to Addressing Religion and Belief in Professional Practice—What Do Social Work Students Have To Say?” by Sheila Furness and Philip Gilligan. British Journal of Social Work. 44 no. 3 (2014): 763-781.
- “Pargament’s Theory of Religious Coping: Implications for Spiritually Sensitive Social Work Practice” by Jianbin Xu. British Journal of Social Work. 46 no. 5 (2016): 1394-1410.
- “Religion and Spirituality as Troublesome Knowledge: The Views and Experiences of Mental Health Social Workers in Northern Ireland” by Patricia Carlisle. British Journal of Social Work. 46 no. 3 (2016): 583-598.
- “Risky Business: Assessing Risk Preference Explanations for Gender Differences in Religiosity” by Louis Marie Roth and Jeffrey Kroll. American Sociological Review. Vol. 72, No. 2 (2007): 205-20.
- “Social Work Field Instructors’ Integration of Religion and Spirituality in Clinical Practice” by Holly K. Oxhandler. Journal of Social Work Education. 53 no. 3 (2017): 449-465.
- “Social Work Practitioners’ Integration of Clients’ Religion and Spirituality in Practice: A Literature Review” by Holly K. Oxhandler and Kenneth I. Pargament. Social Work. 59 no. 3 (2014): 271-279.
- “Spirituality and Religion among the General Public: Implications for Social Work Discourse” by David R. Hodge. Social Work. 60 no. 3 (2015): 219-227.
- “Spirituality diversity in social work practice: The Heart of Helping.” Social Work Education. Vol. 19, No. 2 (Apr. 2000): 191-194.
- “Spirituality in social work in South Africa: Insights from a survey with academics” by Raisuyah Bhagwan. International Social Work. 56 no. 3 (2013): 276-289.
- “Spiritually Sensitive Social Work with Victims of Natural Disasters and Terrorism” by Perry W. Benson, Leola Dyrud Furman, Edward R. Canda, Bernard Moss and Torill Danbolt. British Journal of Social Work. 46 no. 5 (2016): 1372-1393.
- “Teaching about Faith-Based Organizations in the Social Work Curriculum: Perspectives of Social Work Educators” by Sampta P. Pandya. Journal of Teaching in Social Work. 36 no. 2 (2016): 123-139.
- “The Impact of Religiousness, Spirituality, and Social Support on Psychological Well-Being Among Older Adults in Rural Areas” by Dong Pi Yoon and Eun-Kyoung Othelia Lee. Journal of Gerontological Social Work. Vol. 48, No. 3⁄4 (2007): 281-298.
- “The Integration of Clients’ Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Practice: A National Survey” by Holly K. Oxhandler, Danielle E. Parrish, Luis R. Torres, and W. Andrew Achenbaum. Social Work. 60 no. 3 (2015): 219-237.
- “The Religious Dimensions of the Grandparent Role in Three-Generation African American Households” by Sharon V. King, et al. Journal of Religion, Spirituality and Aging. Vol. 19, No. 1 (2006): 75-96.
- “The Resistible Rise of Islamophobia” by Scott Poynting and Victoria Mason.Journal of Sociology. Vol. 43, No. 1 (2007): 61-86.
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman (New York, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997).
- Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities: A Sociological Analysis. William W. Zellner and Marc Petrowsky. Praeger, 1998.
- Spirituality and Religion in Social Work Practice: Decision Cases With Teaching Notes. T. Laine Scales. Council on Social Work Education, 2002.
- Postmodernism, Religion and the Future of Social Work. Jean A Pardeck, John W Murphy and Roland Meinert. Routledge, 1998.
- The sociology of religion. Max Weber. Beacon Press, 1993.
- Sociology of religion: contemporary developments. Kevin J. Christiano, William H. Swatos and Peter Kivisto. Rowman Altamira, 2002.
- An introduction to the sociology of religion: classical and contemporary perspectives. Inger Furseth and Pål Repstad. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006.
- Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Michele Dillon (ed.) Cambridge University Press, 2003.
- Religion, Families, and Health: Population-Based Research in the United States. Christopher Ellison, Robert Hummer, John Bartkowski and Lisa Pearce. Rutgers University Press, 2010.
- Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America. Craig Harline. Yale University Press, 2011.
- Religion Matters: What Sociology Teaches Us About Religion in Our World. Michael O. Emerson, William A. Mirola and Susanne C. Monahan. Prentice Hall, 2010.
- Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence. M. Steven Fish. Oxford University Press USA, 2011.
- Cadge, Wendy; Peggy Levitt and David Smilde. “De-Centering and Re-Centering: Rethinking Concepts and Methods in the Sociological Study of Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Vol. 50, No. 3 (Sept. 2011): 437-49.
- Hayford, Sarah R. and Jenny Trinitapoli. “Religious Differences in Female Genital Cutting: A Case Study from Burkina Faso.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Vol. 50, No. 2 (June 2011): 252-71.
- Peifer, Jared L. “The Economics and Sociology of Religious Giving: Instrumental Rationality or Communal Bonding?” Social Forces. Vol. 88, No. 4 (June 2010): 1569-94.
Codes of ethics
- American Sociological Association – Code of Ethics
- National Association of Social Workers – Code of Ethics
- American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work – Ethics Code
- Sociology of Religion
- Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work
- Sociological Analysis
- Journal of Religion & Society
- Journal of Religion & Abuse
- First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion & Public Life
- Journal of Ritual Studies
- Cultic Studies Review
- Science and Christian Belief
- Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
- Fieldwork in Religion
- “Spirituality and Religion in Social Work Practice“(.pdf) by Rabbi Ben Moshe ben Asher. Social Work Today, Oct. 29, 2001.
- International Study of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Practice
- National Community Anti-Drug Coalition Institute Cultural Competence Resources
- “Addressing Health Disparities among African Americans: Integrating Religion and Spirituality Into Social Work Practice” by Speakers/Presenters Kimberly S. Clay, PhD, Assistant Professor , Schnavia Smith Hatcher, PhD, Assistant Professor and Jeronda T. Burley, MS, MDiv, Doctoral Candidate
- Sociology of Religion (Hartford Institute)
- Online Articles & Bibliographies about Sociology of Religion (Hartford Institute)
- Association for the Sociology of Religion
- Website Links for Sociology 265 Sociology of Religion
Professional associations and faith groups
- American Academy of Religion
- American Sociological Association: Section on Religion
- American Association of Christian Counselors
- Association of Christians Teaching Sociology
- Association for the Sociology of Religion
- Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists
- Christian Community Health Fellowship
- Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University
- Family Christian Association of America
- Islamic Social Services Association
- North American Association of Christians in Social Work
- North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies
- Alvstad, Erik. “Encounters between Believers and Non-Believers in a Symbolic Universe: Religious Dialogue and Controversy on the Internet.” Nordic Journal of Religion and Society. Vol. 23, No. 1 (2011): 71-86.
- Martin, Michelle E. “Philosophical and religious influences on social welfare policy in the United States: The ongoing effect of Reformed theology and social Darwinism on attitudes toward the poor and social welfare policy and practice.”Journal of Social Work. 2010. Published online.
- Norman, Jon. “The Fluidity of Human Capital: Theorizing the Relationship between Religion and Immigration.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion. Vol. 23, No. 1 (2011): 48-63.
- Sociology of Religion. Courtney Bender, Columbia University
- Religion, Society and Justice. Richard Miller, Indiana University
- Sociology of Religion. Nancy Ammerman, Hartford Institute for Religion Research
- Sociology of Religion. Dr. Dallas Blanchard, University of West Florida
- Religion as a Social Phenomenon. Grace Davie, Hartford Seminary
- Comparative Sociology of Religion(.pdf). Steve Pfaff, University of Washington
- Sociology of Religion. Jim Spickard, University of Redlands
- Religion & Pop Culture(.pdf). Charles M. Brown, Albright College
- Media, Religion and Culture(.doc). Eric K. Gormly, Arizona State University
- The Gospel & Pop Culture(.pdf). Bryan Stone, Boston University
- Religion and Popular Culture in America. Elijah Siegler, College of Charleston
- Religion & Pop Culture(.doc). S. T. Campagna-Pinto, California State University, Bakersfield
- Religion & Pop Culture(.pdf). Seth Dowland, Duke University
- Theology of Popular Culture. Kelton Cobb, Hartford Seminary
- American Religion and Popular Culture in Theoretical Perspective(.pdf). Sarah McFarland Taylor, Northwestern University
- Christianity & Culture(.pdf). Steven M. Studebaker, McMaster Divinity College
- Christianity and Culture. Michael Andres, Northwestern College
- Religion and Popular Culture(.pdf). Jennifer Porter, Memorial University of Newfoundland
- Religion and Popular Culture. M. Gail Hamner, Syracuse University
- Religion and Popular Culture(.pdf). Julia Winden-Fey, University of Central Arkansas
- Religion and Popular Culture. Chandler Siobhan, University of Waterloo
- Religion and Popular Culture(.pdf). Seth M. Walker, University of South Florida
- Religion/Theology and Popular Culture. Jessica DeCou, University of Chicago
- Religion and Popular Culture(.pdf). Brent Hagerman, Wilfrid Laurier University