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Primordialists and Constructionists: a typology of theories of religion

Eric, Kaufmann (2012) Primordialists and Constructionists: a typology of theories of religion. Religion, Brain and Behavior 2 (2), pp. 140-160. ISSN 2153-599X.

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This article adopts categories from nationalism theory to classify theories of religion. Primordialist explanations are grounded in evolutionary psychology and emphasize the innate human demand for religion. Primordialists predict that religion does not decline in the modern era but will endure in perpetuity. Constructionist theories argue that religious demand is a human construct. Modernity initially energizes religion, but subsequently undermines it. Unpacking these ideal types is necessary in order to describe actual theorists of religion. Three distinctions within primordialism and constructionism are relevant. Namely those distinguishing: a) materialist from symbolist forms of constructionism; b) theories of origins from those pertaining to the reproduction of religion; and c) within reproduction, between theories of religious persistence and secularization. This typology helps to make sense of theories of religion by classifying them on the basis of their causal mechanisms, chronology and effects. In so doing, it opens up new sightlines for theory and research.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Theories of religion, general theory of religion, primordialism, constructionism, secularization theory
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Politics
Depositing User: Professor Eric Kaufmann
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2012 13:20
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2014 10:09

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