From subtraction to multiplicity

New sociological narratives of morality under modernity

Authored by: Mary Jo Neitz , Kevin McElmurry , Daniel Winchester

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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Relationships between religion, morality, and society have been central to sociology since its founding. Theorists brought a diversity of perspectives to the issues, yet most theorizing has addressed them through a narrative of moral decline, crisis, and loss. This chapter moves away from the assumption of a common moral culture beset with losses. It outlines a “multiplicative story” of modern moral and religious life, emphasizing multiple moral and religious voices in various degrees of harmony and conflict. This chapter highlights research that examines how moral cultures are produced and negotiated in specific social and cultural contexts, both inside and outside the boundaries of institutional religion, including the growing population of religious “nones.” We highlight general processes including moral boundaries, moral conflict, hybridity, and spirituality, examining them working in particular places, including Evangelicals in the United States, Pentecostals in Nigeria, Hindi Fundamentalists in India, and turtle rescuers in the United States.

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