Cultural consumer markets are, to a large degree, governed by processes of social stratification, distinction, and the symbolic properties of cultural taste. Especially Bourdieu’s field theory has been influential, but in recent years criticized—often for its emphasis on cultural hierarchies and consecration agents. This chapter argues that it would be naive to conclude that symbolic differences no longer matter in contemporary cultural markets. Drawing on empirical material in the domains of globalization and digitalization—arguably two of the most important developments in cultural markets in recent decades—this chapter shows how symbolic inequalities remain important for understanding markets. It compares audience preferences with consecration outcomes and concludes that cultural mediators and consecrators often offer more cultural diversity than audience markets. Also digitalization is—so far—not the great equalizer: digital access to cultural content differs across countries, age groups, and educational levels.
From Paganism to World Transcendence: Religious Attachment Theory and the Evolution of the World Religions
Stephen K. Sanderson
This chapter draws on one of the new cognitive and evolutionary psychological theories of religion, religious attachment theory, to explain the emergence of the Axial Age religions of the late first millennium bce. These religions—Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism—introduced new kinds of gods into world history—gods that were transcendent and capable of providing release from suffering. Religious attachment theory views religion as providing “substitute attachment figures” under circumstances in which people’s social attachments have been severely disrupted. The basic argument of the chapter is that the new Axial Age gods were responses to heightened levels of anxiety and ontological insecurity that accompanied massive increases in warfare and urbanization in the period between approximately 600 bce and 1 ce. The anthropomorphic pagan gods of the ancient empires had become inadequate in the face of the new religious needs that people began to experience, and thus they came to be replaced.
Weber’s concept of Islam as a cultural configuration including religion, society, and political order was conceived against the backdrop of Europe’s supposed uniqueness and exemplary path to modernity. Yet his ambition of advancing transcultural understanding and exploring a plurality of developmental histories offers inspiration to this day also for the Islamic perspective. Repositioning his ideas about warrior Islam, Islamic beliefs, Islamic law, and patrimonialism in the context of contemporary postcolonial, postmodern, and global theory reveals details, correlations, and perspectives that Weber at the time ignored or omitted. Complementing theory with up-to-date historical research on the Middle East provides further corrections. A critical appraisal of Weber’s approach and the discussions it triggered allows recognition of the dynamics of Islamic history, such as the role of religion and religious authority in the evolution of state–society relations. It also assists in understanding Islamic features of modernity, including fundamentalism and the role of tradition, that inform the tension between moral values and politics. Going beyond the historical limitation of Weber’s assessment of prevalent features of Islam, the vitality of Islamic tradition and its particular pathway to modernity are recognizable in terms corresponding with the intention of Weber’s transcultural approach and its contemporary reinterpretations.
Bryan S. Turner and Rosario Forlenza
While Max Weber wrote extensively on a range of religions—Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and most extensively Protestantism—there is no fully developed sociology of Catholicism. This chapter attempts to construct Max Weber’s missing sociology of Catholicism from the various scattered comments across his works. While Weber saw Protestantism influencing the growth of capitalism (and more broadly modernization), his view of Catholicism was largely negative: it was ritualistic, magical, bureaucratic, and traditional. What would Weber have made of Catholicism in the twentieth century and twenty-first century? This chapter first examines developments in nineteenth-century Catholicism that lay behind Weber’s critical commentary. The second half asks how changes in Catholicism after the Second Vatican Council (informally known as Vatican II, 1962–1965) have brought about a modernization of Catholicism. The chapter argues for the relevance of Weber’s views today by considering the impact of Vatican II on Catholic teaching and practice, arguing that it represents the political modernization of Catholicism. Vatican II represented a radical departure from the political conservatism of the nineteenth century. In principle, the church was no longer critical of secular democracy, pluralism, the party system, and state sovereignty. This modernization, however, began to undermine the universalism of the church and pushed Catholicism toward denominationalism. However, the church did not modernize its teaching on contraception, abortion, marriage, divorce, and family life. This tension between political modernization and what we might simply call “familial conservatism” still haunts the church today.
Alexandra Maryanski and Jonathan H. Turner
The human propensity for religious behavior and, eventually, religious organization is the by-product of natural selection working on the neuroanatomy of low-sociality and non-group-forming hominins to become more social and group oriented as a necessary strategy for survival on the African savanna. Using cladistic analysis to determine the behavioral and organizational propensities of the last common ancestor to present-day great apes and humans’ hominin ancestors, while at the same time engaging in comparative neuroanatomy of extant great-ape and human brains, the neurological basis of religion is isolated. Religion emerged under early selection pressures to make hominins more social and able to form stable groups. From the combination of dramatically increased emotionality and cognitive functioning, the transition from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens approximately 300,000 year ago created the neurological platform for religious behaviors among early humans.
Religious globalisms are ways of understanding the global environment as expressed through specific religious world views. The literature tends to see a dichotomous relationship between religious and secular globalisms, with the former in opposition to the latter. The issue was put in focus by the impact of post-Cold War globalization and the contemporaneous return of religion to international relations, which had much to say about the “soulless” nature of market-based globalization and the advance of capitalism to the detriment of religious values and norms. This chapter contends that there are various religious globalisms and that it is not a straightforward relationship per se between religious and secular globalism.
This chapter analyzes the philosophical import of the notion of reputation along two main axes: (1) reputation as a motivation for action, and (2) reputation as a special kind of social information. Is reputation a rational motive of action? Can it be an ultimate aim or is it always reducible to some kind of self-interest? Is reputation a rational means to extract information from the social world? Should we rely on other’s evaluations? By reconstructing the philosophy of reputation in the history of thought and analyzing the contemporary approaches to reputation in philosophy, the chapter also provides also some rudiments of an “epistemology of reputation.”
When Max Weber began his work on the historical importance of the relationship between the Protestant ethic and modern capitalism, he committed himself to the most enduring of his theoretical interests, the economic ethic of the most important religions. Investigating central issues in Max Weber’s study on ancient Judaism, this chapter points to its relevance for the understanding of contemporary populism. For this purpose, two key aspects of his work are emphasized: this religion’s rationality—inescapable for the understanding of Western modernity—and the charisma of the biblical prophets, based on their social and political position as well as on the affective bond they formed with the masses. Both aspects provide important insights for the assessment of contemporary populist movements.