Comprehensive Exam

In addition to whatever specific readings graduate students engage for their own personal research interests, there is a core set of readings with which sociologists of religion should be highly familiar in order to claim professional competence, as background to eventually teaching in the sociology of religion, and as intellectual context to help become an original producer of scholarship in the field. The purpose of doctoral exams is to provide occasions for students to master the core literatures of their fields of interest and research. Scholars differ somewhat on exactly what literature belongs on such core lists of readings. Listed below, however, are the readings which Notre Dame graduate students will be expected to master for their doctoral comprehensive exams in the sociology of religion.

Many of the journal articles are available via links to the Notre Dame Hammes Library online journals. In order to access these, you will need to be a current Notre Dame student and will be asked to provide your netid and password. Students will be expected to locate the listed books on their own.

2020-2021 Sociology of Religion Area Exam Reading List

Readings for Comprehensive Exam in Sociology of Religion for the Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame

Among the core questions in the sociology of religion—which the readings below address in various ways and about which doctoral exams in sociology of religion will ask—are the following:

1. Subject: What is “religion?” Why and how are people religious? How is religion expressed in
social terms and forms?

2. Methods: How can we study religion sociologically? What are the characteristic strengths and
weaknesses of different methodological approaches, especially as they relate to larger theoretical
interests and perspectives and types of research agendas and questions?

3. Modernity: How does the historical transition from “pre-modern” to modern (and postmodern?)
society affect the strength and character of religion? Does modernity secularize or not? Are there
multiple modernities when it comes to religion? What might that mean?

4. Practice and Belonging: What social factors and processes influence individuals’ religious
beliefs, commitments, practices, conversions, switching, etc. and the strength and character of
religious communities, traditions, and subcultures?

5. Social Reproduction and Change: What influence does religion exert in maintaining and/or
challenging established social practices and institutions, through politics, cultural transformation,
or other means?

Read the full area exam guidelines.