4507799: CF_Introduction to Sociology of Religion. Classical and contemporary Perspectives

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Semester:SS 18
Scheduled in semester:1-6
Semester Hours per Week / Contact Hours:30.0 L / 22.5 h
Self-directed study time:67.5 h

Module coordination/Lecturers


Bachelor's degree programme in Business Administration (01.09.2012)
Master's degree programme in Architecture (01.09.2014)
Bachelor's degree programme in Architecture (01.09.2014)
Master's degree programme in Information Systems (01.09.2015)
Master's degree programme in Finance (01.09.2015)
Master's degree programme in Entrepreneurship (01.09.2015)


European philosophy assumed in the late 19th and early 20th century that religion will disappear from the modern world. This assumption has proved to be wrong and Eurocentric. At the latest since 09/11 people talk about a "return of religion"; they mean a political religion indeed. In the National Research Program "Religions, the State, the Society" (NRP 58) the three main trends pluralization, individualization and secularization characterize the religious situation in modern Switzerland. But: What is religion? We will discuss the functional and substantial definitions of religion, as well as the differentiation of "belonging" and "believing" (Eileen Barker). The students will read, present and discuss classical and neoclassical texts of sociology of religion. We will also discuss contemporary religious phenomena such as fundamentalism, religious conversion, charismatic evangelicalism and popular religion (ex. esoteric and spiritual religion). We will follow the position of methodological agnosticism, define religion as cultural construct and a "social fact" (Emile Durkheim) and disregard the philosophical or theological question, if religions are "true".

Lecture Goals

  • Introduction in sociological theories with the example of religion
  • Basic knowledge of sociology of religion
  • Understanding of actual political and spiritual tendencies in global religion


Lectures Method

  • Lecture & seminar discussions

Admission Requirements

Interest and curiosity!
To read all the texts is mandatory.


Reading material will be provided on moodle.

Exam Modalities

The students will present one of the texts that will be discussed in the plenum (preparation, presentation and documents).

Compulsory attendance (min. 80%)


Passed / Failed

  • Course based on continuous assessment, details see under "assessment".
  • Meeting attendance obligations is an essential pre-requisite for successfully completing a course based on continuous assessment. The presence at the day of presentations is absolutely obligatory
  • Attendance must be proven for at least 80% of the stipulated contact time. Responsibility for checking and providing written proof of this obligatory attendance lies with the course lecturer who is required to store this information at least until the end of the semester.
  • In the case of absenteeism that exceeds the specified limits of absence, a medical certificate is required. Responsibility lies with the head of the Coordination Office for Cross-Faculty Elective Subjects to approve the reason for the student's failure to attend.
  • Participation in other activities of the university are not recognized as an excused absence.


Cross-faculty elective subject:
Notice the special Multi-stage allocation process.