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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Publication details for Professor Mathew Guest

Guest, Mathew (2008). The Reproduction and Transmission of Religion. In The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Clarke, Peter Oxford: Oxford University Press. 651-670.

Author(s) from Durham


This article critiques theories of transmission and the reproduction of religion from Comte through Marx and Durkheim to contemporary sociologists of religion, including Berger, engaging as it does so with positivist and sociology-of-knowledge approaches to the question, among others. It also deals with the issues of transmission and reproduction in the context of secularisation theory in its various guises. The article further considers Hervieu-Léger's views on the phenomenon of ‘cultural amnesia’, the effects of which gravely undermine the passing on of religious beliefs and values. Transmission and reproduction do not necessarily depend on the mainstream churches, which are increasingly less effective in this regard. The emergence of small-scale, alternative community structures could possibly perform the role of sustaining and passing on core values.


Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology