Journal Article

Why Has a Sociology of Religion not Developed in Israel? A Look at the Influence of Socio-Political Environment on the Study of Religion: A Research Note

Ezra Kopelowitz and Yael Israel-Shamsian

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 66, issue 1, pages 71-84
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4153117
Why Has a Sociology of Religion not Developed in Israel? A Look at the Influence of Socio-Political Environment on the Study of Religion: A Research Note

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Why do Israeli social scientists treat religion primarily through theoretical frameworks developed in other areas of sociology or the social sciences, but rarely draw on insights from the sociology of religion, and even more rarely make a theoretical contribution to the development of the sub-discipline? And, why are Israeli social scientists who do contribute to the sociology of religion primarily Orthodox and foreign-born Jews, while most sociologists in Israel are secular Jews and born in the country? To answer these questions we focus on the fact that the questions asked and theories developed by sociologists of religion tend to treat religion as a phenomenon that is primarily limited to the private sphere. By private, we mean religion as a voluntary activity that is the result of choices made by individuals in their everyday lives. This contrasts to religious practices in the public sphere that are shaped by state legislation or by involuntary interactions with others. The focus of sociologists of religion on the private, voluntary realm means that the theoretical insights offered by the discipline are deemed irrelevant by secular Jewish Israeli social scientists, who tend to conceptualize religion as a state driven and/or public phenomenon.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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