Social “religion” which fits the broad definition that Durkheim 

For this paper you are to empirically examine a social “religion” which fits the broad definition that Durkheim provides, but is not generally or traditionally seen as a religion.

Social “religion” which fits the broad definition that Durkheim

Spring 2020:
Paper #2: A Durkheimian Examination of Social “Religions”

In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), Emile Durkheim makes the case that not only are all religions inherently social, but that society itself produces religions.  For this paper you are to empirically examine a social “religion” which fits the broad definition that Durkheim provides, but is not generally or traditionally seen as a religion.

First:

You must choose a specific social group or activity that will fit Durkheim’s definition of a religion.  This cannot be a social group or activity that you currently belong to or perform.  You are to examine this group as an outsider, objectively studying what would make this group/activity “religious” according to Durkheim. No more than 3 students will be allow ed to have the same exact research subject.  Lack of approval will result in a grade penalty.

Second: 

Do empirical research to determine if this social group/activity fits Durkheim’s definition of religion and in what specific ways it fulfills that definition.  You can choose from three separate methods, which may be use separately or can be combine d within a single project.

-Detached observation: place yourself strategically in some place and observe the “religion” without participating.
-Participant observation: join the “religion” as if you were a member and act “naturally.”
-Interview: ask questions of people who are members of the group in order to understand more about the “religion.”

Third:
After conducting your fieldwork, write up your observations (field notes) as soon as is feasible. These will be turned in with your essay. (Your field notes do not count towards the word limit).

Fourth:

Write a paper where you (1) explain Durkheim’s theory on the nature of religion in society and (2) explain how your chosen “religion” works as an example of Durkheim’s theory.  Both of these aspects are equally important in terms of determining your grade for this paper.  You have a 1,500 word limit for this paper (approx. 5 pages typewritten, 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins and double-spaced).  Lastly, Please make sure to include your paper’s word count somewhere on the first page of your paper.

While your ability to explain Durkheim’s theory and show how your example connects to it will be the most important aspects of your grade, please keep in mind that organization and grammar are also important.  Do not wait until the last minute to do this assignment, give yourself enough time to do the necessary fieldwork, write, re-read and revise your papers before turning them in.

If you use only class materials and your own original research findings, there is no need for a bibliography.  However, be sure to use parenthetical documentation for any references, i.e.  (Edles and Appelrouth 137) for readings, or (Barnes 2020) for lecture.

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