Have you heard of "The Protestant Ethic" or "American Civil Religion?" We have sociologists to thank for those concepts and for many of the ways we understand our world. According to Michael Emerson in Contemporary American Religions (McMillan, 1999): "The sociology of religion seeks to understand humanly constructed aspects of religion in their social context. In contrast to other viable approaches to studying religion, the sociology of religion searches for patterns and processes underlying the interdependence of religion and society. To do so, it relies on models, theories, observation, and analysis." Though philosophers have written about the relationship between religious belief and human society for centuries, it was not until sociology developed as a discipline that this field of study proliferated. Emile Durkheim and Max Weber were two pioneers of sociology in the twentieth century who also contributed significant theory and study in the sociology of religion. Associations of scholars continue the work through empirical methods, modeling, observation, and publication. Adjunct fields of anthropology of religion, comparative religion, congregational studies, public theology, religious demography, and religious ethics add both depth and breadth to the field.
Or use the name of any faith group, adding "customs and practices, for example: "Hinduism customs and practices."
To a country or city subject search, add "religious life and customs" to find works of sociological interest. For example: India religious life and customs.
To some general subject headings, adding "religious aspects" will yield books about the religious dimensions of a topic, such as "Marriage religious aspects."
The ATLA Religion Database indexes many of the journals mentioned in this guide. These subject terms will be fruitful in the ATLA database.
Society and Church
Culture and Christianity
Because this is an interdisciplinary field, many articles can be found in the following databases.
Academic Search Complete (Largest general database)
SocIndex with Full Text (Recommended sociology database)
Theses two Ebsco databases use similar subject terms for this discipline: religion, religion & sociology, religion & culture, religion study & teaching, church, any of the names of religious groups, or secularization.
These books are by the seminal authors of the field.