Sociology of religion as a discipline approaches religion as a social phenomenon. Studies focus on the ways in which human beings in contemporary society, through spoken words, texts and practices, express beliefs in what they consider to be sacred and/or supernatural. The study of social interaction is key to analyzing how individual beliefs and practices take collective form, in organizations, movements, and societal institutions.

Historically the relationship between modernization and secularization has been the main theoretical starting point for sociology of religion. Ongoing changes in society such as globalization, mediatization, and increasing religious and cultural diversity demand a more complex understanding of religious changes. Therefore, research within the sociology of religion has expanded from Christian churches and communities to include studies of Islam, Judaism and new forms of spirituality. Furthermore, the context of study has expanded to include social contexts such as welfare, media, schools and politics, where the meaning and role of religion becomes subject to negotiations between various interests and actors. Sociology of religion studies patterns and trends of social and religious change, as well as variations and complexity in terms of local and national context, class, gender, age, ethnicity and sexuality.

The focus on empirical studies is strong within the sociology of religion at the department of theology. Researchers use qualitative and quantitative methods from social sciences for sampling and analysis of data, such as surveys, interviews, and different types of text analysis. A common aim is to apply analytical frameworks and study designs that enable connections and comparisons between discursive and social structures, and between an individual, group and societal level.

Sociology of religion at the Faculty of Theology in Uppsala has a strong tradition of research within externally financed projects, which are often part of interdisciplinary and international collaborations. Professors, assistant professors, and doctoral students actively participate in Nordic and international collaborations, organizations, and conferences, and in public and culture debates. During the period 2009-2019, a large part of the research has been conducted within the multidisciplinary research program “The Impact of Religion: Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy” funded by the Swedish Research Council and Uppsala University, and in close connection to the Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre (CRS).

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