A new reader on Religion and Globalization

13 Oct

Religion and Globalization

Edited by Veronique Altglas

Sociological analyses of globalization have predominantly focused on world capitalism and international relations, and have only recently looked at globalization’s relation to culture and religion. However, there might be good reasons to view religion as an essential component of the making of the contemporary global situation.

Because space and identities are reformulated by religions as they break through geographic and cultural boundaries, religion is now widely recognized as ‘the great globalizer’. In particular, as they become transnational, religions adapt to new social contexts and interact with other cultures, transforming themselves and their cultural environment. Furthermore, religions and their adherents are extremely responsive to globalization, whether they perceive it as threatening their particular identity or as an opportunity to provide a universal message to the world and become a ‘global religion’. This new four-volume collection from Routledge brings together all the key texts on globalization and religion in one easy-to-use ‘mini library’. Each of the volumes articulates theoretical and empirical perspectives: while theories attempt to grasp the nature of the relations between globalization and religion, a diversity of case studies shed light on the importance of religion in the making of contemporary global situations.

The first volume brings together the best scholarship on religion and space in its global context. Volume II entitled ‘Westernization of Religion and its Counter-Trends’ looks at the debates surrounding the westernization of religion including the transnational diffusion and local expressions of Christianity and counter-trends to the westernization of religion. Volume III features articles concerning the theories and case-studies on the religious responses to globalization. The final volume looks at the new challenges, epistemological and transnational faced by religion and politics in their global context.

Overall, the contributions presented in these four volumes shed light on the fact that globalization has become an unavoidable issue for the understanding of religion in today’s world. While the growth in the number of works on globalization and religion has been phenomenal in recent years, this selection of research aims to reflect the multifaceted and complex character of globalization and accordingly provide innovative methodological and conceptual tools to address globalization and its complexity. We have also endeavored to present the most diverse set of case studies from every region of the world and every form of religious expression to emphasize that cross-cultural comparisons and multi-local research are the indispensable means to account for the global nature of social life and the wide range of religious responses to it. Finally, the diversity of these reprinted contributions from anthropology and sociology in particular also aims to emphasize what we believe is necessary for a satisfactory approach to this complex and multifaceted issue: a perspective which takes into account both theoretical and empirical angles, so that the making of globalization in everyday lives at the local level is not overlooked in this new grand narrative of the social sciences.

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