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Self, Social Structure, and BeliefsExplorations in Sociology$
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Jeffrey Alexander

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241367

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241367.001.0001

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Enlisting Smelser’s Theory of Ambivalence to Maintain Progress in Sociology of Religion’s New Paradigm

Enlisting Smelser’s Theory of Ambivalence to Maintain Progress in Sociology of Religion’s New Paradigm

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter 6 Enlisting Smelser’s Theory of Ambivalence to Maintain Progress in Sociology of Religion’s New Paradigm
Source:
Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs
Author(s):

R. Stephen Warner

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520241367.003.0008

This chapter draws on the theoretical power of ambivalence in accounting for aspects of religious attitudes and behavior. Contrary to the claims of theorists looking at Europe, this chapter contends that religion, particularly in the United States, has not withered away in the face of cultural pluralism and scientific rationality that were supposed to threaten its viability. This chapter has four parts. First, the chapter traces the developments of the new paradigm in the sociology of religion. Second, the chapter discusses the anomalies in the new paradigm if its foundation were to be taken as a rational choice theory. Third, the chapter draws on Smelser's work on ambivalence which aids in elucidating those anomalies without abandoning the fundamental insight of the new paradigm. The chapter concludes by outlining some theoretical implications of the new paradigm.

Keywords:   ambivalence, religious attitudes, religious behavior, religion, new paradigm, sociology of religion, rational choice

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