Apples and Oranges

Gail Gaisin Glicksman and Allen Glicksman

Edited by David E. Guinn

in Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780195178739
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784943 | DOI:
 Apples and Oranges

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In recent years a new approach to the study of religion in the social sciences has emerged. It differs from the classical approach in four important ways. First, it treats all specific religious traditions as subsets or specific expressions of some underlying domain that is universal across all groups. Second this new approach treats religion as generally beneficent, and in this way it differs from both those theoreticians like Durkheim and Weber, who saw a more complex relationship between religion and society, and those such as Marx and Freud, who generally took a negative view of the effect of religion. Third, adherents of this new approach claim to be able to identify a therapeutic effect of religion on the physical and mental health of individuals, treating religion as a “health behavior”. This chapter asks whether this new approach accomplishes the goals of its proponents. It examines the Jewish identities felt by American Jews sixty-five years of age and older as a test case.

Keywords: religion; social science; American Jews; Jewish identity; religion as “health behavior”

Chapter.  5147 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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