Defining Religion

André Droogers

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Defining Religion


This article tackles the vexed question of defining religion by looking at a map of the landscape through which definers travel. It highlights the merits of a social-constructionist approach to the issue, maintaining that definitions cannot be isolated from the position of the definer in global society, or from the religion and science and the secularisation debates. In describing three dimensions (ontological, epistemological, and methodological), both the maps and the cartographers must be considered. The definer's views on religion cannot be separated from the way in which religion is represented and from the form the definition is given. Even those who refuse to define religion position themselves within the parameters of these three dimensions.

Keywords: secularisation; social-constructionist approach; religion; ontology

Article.  7453 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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