Pitzer College Professor of Sociology Phil Zuckerman Publishes Book on the Study of Religion and Society


Claremont, Calif. (January 17, 2013) — Pitzer Professor of Sociology Phil Zuckerman co-edited Studying Religion and Society: Sociological Self-Portraits, a book of essays written by leading experts in the field who explore how they approach and understand religion.

In Study Religion and Society, Zuckerman and his co-editor Titus Hjelm examine why some of the most well-known and influential sociologists began studying religion. They contacted the biggest names in the business to find out. Contributors to the volume include Steve Bruce, chair of sociology at the University of Aberdeen, and Robert Wuthnow, director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.

In the book, noted scholars talk about how their own views on religion affect their work. Breaking away from a strictly academic tone, these essays are personal and engaging as well as intellectually satisfying. Although the essays offer distinct points of view, collectively they illustrate one of the most crucial concepts in the contemporary study of religion, Zuckerman said.

“We can only understand religion if we understand the social context within which it exists,” he said. “It isn’t enough to study sacred texts, doctrines, ancient history, and theology; we must study how religion plays out in people’s daily lives— in their homes, schools and congregations.”

Gordon Lynch, a professor of modern theology at the University of Kent, called Studying Religion and Society “a genuinely unusual and fascinating book.”

“It gives not only the personal background to many of the most important contributions to the sociology of religion of the past generation, but a unique perspective on what influences people’s work in this field as well,” he said.

Zuckerman pioneered Pitzer’s secular studies program—the first of its kind in the world. He has authored four books, including Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion (Oxford University Press, 2011). In addition to having edited four previous books, he has published widely in both the mainstream media and academic journals, including The Washington Post, The Guardian and Free Inquiry. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

Studying Religion and Society was published by Routledge and is available online and through select bookstores.


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