Chapter

Studying religion in Sub-Saharan Africa

Maria Frahm-Arp

in Religion, spirituality and the social sciences

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420411
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303190 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847420411.003.0007
Studying religion in Sub-Saharan Africa

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, changes in the high rate of HIV/AIDS infection, economic instability, unemployment, and religion were spurred by the rise of African independent churches to the current popularity of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity and Catholicism. To be able to understand these, it is necessary to consider the religious world-view and the place of religion within the socio-political shifts in this area. This chapter, hence, uses religion as a social variable in order to gauge and understand why people act collectively. It examines some of the salient issues featured in the early sociological study of religion and shows how these have influenced the way that religion has been studied in Africa. It also examines the way in which contemporary Christianity and African religions have been studied and proposes ways to include religious variables in the broader study of societies in postcolonial Africa.

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa; religious world-view; independent churches; religion; Africa; contemporary Christianity; African religions

Chapter.  6005 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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