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Durkheim's Sociology of Religion:

Themes and Theories

By W.S.F. Pickering

Durkheim's Sociology of Religion

Durkheim's Sociology of Religion:

Themes and Theories

By W.S.F. Pickering

The definitive guide to the French sociologist's theories on religion, which helped establish sociology of religion as a discipline.

Trade Information: JPOD
Available as: Paperback, PDF

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Print Paperback

ISBN: 9780227172971

Specifications: 216x140mm (8.5x5.5in), 604pp

Published: June 2009


PDF eBook

ISBN: 9780227902554

Specifications: 577pp

Published: February 2014

£29.25 + VAT

Religion is central to Durkheim's theory of society, and his work laid most of the foundations of the sociology of religion. Daring and brilliant though his analysis was, its bold claims and questionable premises has made it the subject of ongoing academic debate. Durkheim's work on the subject reached a peak with the publication in 1912 of what turned out to be a classic in its field, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life.

No other book has explained Durkheim's views on religion using the whole corpus of his writings. Dr Pickering shows how Durkheim's position developed and explains the themes and theories that run through Durkheim's work. This includes Durkheim's attitude towards secularisation and Christian churches, as well as his notion of the contemporary cult of the individual.

The Revd Dr William S.F. Pickering has been an Anglican priest since 1950, and for twenty years was a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is currently the General Secretary of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, which he helped to found in 1991. It is based in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University.

He has written and edited a number of books on Durkheim and his followers, as well as many articles. Among his other publications are Sociology and Theology: Alliance and Conflict (Harvester Press, 1980), A Social History of the Diocese of Newcastle 1882–1982 (Oriel Press, 1981), The Hutterites (Ward Lock Educational, 1982) and Anglo-Catholicism: A Study in Religious Ambiguity, which has also been reprinted by James Clarke and Co Ltd.

Although the author excuses himself for not having covered certain aspects of the subject, this book of great erudition is the summation of all that one can know – or almost know – of Durkheim's sociology of religion. F.A. Isambert, in Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions
An excellent guide to Durkheim's priorities. John Griffiths, in The Tablet
Fair, circumspect, clear and exceptionally readable. Anthony J. Blasi, in Sociological Analysis
The book represents a comprehensive analysis of Durkheim's sociology of religion, which makes it a must-read for scholars and students of sociology and sociology of religion. Margarita Simon Guillory, in Religious Studies Review, Vol 38, No 3
Durkheim's works inspired by the scientific canons of sociological methodology, laid the foundation for the understanding of the multiple influences of community and society on individual behaviour and practices. Thus, it is understandable why it is exceptionally difficult to concentrate such a great legacy in a single study, which makes Dr Pickering's work considerably consistent and unique. Ramona Hosu, in Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Vol 9, Issue 25
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