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The sociology of religions explores religions and spiritualties as significant features of the social world. Religions, it has been said, represent both “a powerful organization of meaning, and a meaningful organization of power”, and this module explores both aspects. Firstly, how are the various meanings sometimes held to be at the core of religions organized in different contexts to construct institutions, identities, social practices and so on? Secondly, how does the changing relationship of religions with state power and with ethnicity, gender, class and so on shape wider social realities? The module will also look at conflicts in modernity around e.g. religious power, secularisation or fundamentalism, as well as at the sociological questions associated with e.g. various forms of unbelief, “spirituality” constructed as separate from institutional religion or new religious movements. The sociology of religions, and this module, is non-confessional and empirical in nature, meaning that it takes an etic rather than emic perspective (focussing on actual religious practice and institutions rather than theology or psychology). The module thus necessarily includes methodological reflection on how we can claim to study religions as sociologists, and discussion of classic sociological engagements with religions such as those of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Gramsci or Foucault.