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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Publication details for Dr Adam Powell

Powell, Adam J. (2017). Functionalism or Fallacy: Re-locating Hans Mol’s Identity Theory. Italian Sociological Review 7(1): 63-85.

Author(s) from Durham


In this paper, the identity theory of religion outline by sociologist Hans Mol in the 1970s is introduced and located among the various competing theories of the mid-20th century. Using such comparisons, particularly with enigmatic sociological figures, it is argued that the original consensus that Mol represented yet another neo-functionalist theory of religion is fallacious. Instead, it is suggested that his theoretical framework, whilst ambitious and broad, is something other than functionalism and avoids easy categorisation when viewed from a 21st-century perspective on the history of ideas.