In his exploration of the interaction between religion and worldwide social and cultural change, the author examines the major theories of global change and discusses the ways in which such change impinges on contemporary religious practice, meaning and influence.
Beyer explores some of the key issues in understanding the shape of religion today, including religion as culture and as social system, pure and applied religion, privatized and publicly influential religion, and liberal versus conservative religions. He goes on to apply these issues to five contemporary illustrative cases: the American Christian Right; Liberation Theology movements in Latin America; the Islamic Revolution in Iran; Zionists in Israel; and religiou
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`It is illuminating, it may be persuasive, it ought to be read.... Beyer′s discussion is both more complex amd more nuanced than can be conveyed in a short review. Relatedly, it is more illuminating, more thought-provoking - and more interesting!... the reader is introduced to a wealth of recent literature covering disparate areas of debate, all of them important, and this in itself is valuable. Yet the main value lies in the challenge presented by the novel synthesis as a whole. Participants in future debates will need to digest this book - interested observers would be well advised to do so too′ - Journal of Contemporary Religion
`The five case studies are very well informed; they are simultaneously accessible to the novice and worthwhile for scholars who study religion and social movements. For the most part, the empirical chapters could stand alone, partly because of their quality but also because their insights may not greatly depend upon the theoretical chapters.... Beyer′s globalization thesis makes some interesting suggestions that are worth exploring′ - Contemporary Sociology
`This is an innovative, important and timely book that offers much to social scientists with an interest in the role of religion in the contemporary world. In summary form the question posed by this remarkable book is this: will systemic world religion prove capable of generating the kind of "global civil religion" (albeit diversified) that is much needed where functional differentiation and cultural fragmentation have destroyed shared norms. Thus on the one hand, Dr Beyer challenges the social scientist with an exceptionally wide-ranging theoretical argument, but equally, on the other, he confronts the practitioner with a powerful and suggestive explanation of the function and potential of contemporary religion - and therefore with an opportunity that must not be overlooked′ - Professor Richard Roberts, Director of the Institute for Religion and Human Sciences, University of St Andrews
`Peter Beyers adds a new, benchmark approach to the analysis of globalization and religion in the global circumstance...He has brought a new theoretical strategy to bear the analysis of religion in the contemporary world′ - Journal for the Scientific Study of ReligionExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The term globalization is of quite recent provenance. It first appeared in the business and sociological literature of the 1980s, but by the end of the century it had become a broadly invoked expression in both academic and popular discourse around the world. Along the way, it has acquired a variety of meanings that it is well to understand at the outset. They share the common element implied in the word: all parts of the world are becoming increasingly tied into a single, globally extended social unit....
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