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Studying Religion in the Eighties

Studying Religion in the Eighties

(p.90) 4 Studying Religion in the Eighties
Symbolic Interaction and Cultural Studies
Mary Jo Neitz
University of Chicago Press

In attempting to understand recent changes in religious phenomena, sociology of religion has adopted approaches that bring it very close to the traditional concerns of symbolic interactionists. This chapter argues that symbolic interaction is well suited to helping us understand the fluid relationships that today often obtain between religions and social structures and between religions and cultural change, as well as the personal transformations experienced by individuals moving between religious systems of meaning. It shows how recent research in the sociology of religion is using approaches similar to those traditionally used by symbolic interactionists. The new research looks at how meanings are socially constructed through interaction: it sees conversion as a process, power as a product of negotiation, and movements as fluid. The chapter also explores the impact of cultural studies.

Keywords:   religion, symbolic interaction, cultural studies, sociology, meaning, conversion, power, movements

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