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date: 13 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses primarily on ways in which some of Emile Durkheim's ideas on religion have been, and can be developed, particularly his central category of sacrality. The factor of the ‘sacred’ continues to be observable wherever group identities are challenged and put at stake, as in conflicts over ethnic and national autonomy, in loyalty to tribes and sects, in human-rights issues, and in domestic wars over such things as the inviolability of human embryos, marriage, and traditional gendered classifications. Whereas Durkheim thought that his elementary forms encompassed the whole of religion, today one is more methodologically circumspect and is more likely to take structural types as addressing aspects of a phenomenon and not whole or total entities. The article concludes with a discussion of the relevance of the sciences of evolutionary sociality for reappraising Durkheimian ideas of the social formations of religious behavior.

Keywords: Emile Durkheim, religious behavior, evolutionary sociality, ethnic autonomy, group identities

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