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Two Traditions of Czech Sociology of Religion

[journal article]

Nespor, Zdenek R.

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Abstract Regardless of the role religion plays in the world today, ie despite the significant deprivatization of faith in the sociocultural space & in politics, contemporary Czech sociology of religion is in rather poor shape. The author presents a number of factors to explain this, including the legacy of the communist regime, & low levels of church attendance in the Czech Republic, the latter having been erroneously interpreted as non-religiosity. But the author focuses mainly one other reason: the discordant legacy of Czech pre-communist sociology of religion & the neighboring field of social studies. Two different traditions of the subject are identified - the 'profane' sociology of religion, founded by T. G. Masaryk, & Catholic religious sociology. Although the former legacy declared itself non-religious & even anti-clerical, in the case of many of its followers this claim was only partially true. In the 1930s & 1940s, when they (especially Prague's sociological school, which formed a certain opposition to Masaryk) turned more toward Durkheimian attitudes, they emphasized, for example, their own religious experience as a necessary tool for understanding piety. On the other hand, Catholic religious sociology was closely related to church activism, policy, & contemporary social work, ie, strictly conservative & anti-modern. Its way of understanding modern society was discounted by the former group of scholars, though to at least some degree, the two legacies shared similar methodological approaches. Both certainly seem outdated today, but their theoretical & methodological discussions & their findings remain of importance. Consequently, a re-thinking of these legacies & their theoretical backgrounds is still significant for the sociology of religion today.
Classification Sociology of Religion
Free Keywords Sociology of Religion; Czech Republic; Communism; Church Attendance; Religiosity; Postcommunist Societies; Sacredness; Theoretical Problems
Publication Year 2004
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 40 (2004) 4
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications