Journal Article

Religion, Culture and Society in the ‘Information Age’

Philip A. Mellor

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 65, issue 4, pages 357-371
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712319
Religion, Culture and Society in the ‘Information Age’

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In some forms of sociology, “culture” has come to replace “society” as the central object of study. This has encouraged an epistemological relativism that overrides a proper engagement with human ontology, while it has also allowed for the development of forms of reductionism where culture turns out to be determined by something deemed more fundamental, such as technology. Some influential contemporary accounts of the “information age” exhibit both these characteristics. The argument of this paper is that these do not offer a productive route forward for sociology in general, or for sociologists of religion in particular. It is argued that Durkheim's social realism not only helps to illuminate the inadequacy of those theories that ignore the human and religious dimensions of contemporary life in their intoxication with machine-mediated flows of information, but can also point towards a more productive way forward for the analysis of contemporary social and cultural realities.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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