Religion and Class: Theoretical and Research Directions
This article outlines a number of theoretical approaches to the intersection of religion and social class. It does so in relation to the three theoretical traditions of Durkheim, Weber and Marx. Regarding the Durkheimian framework, the article suggests that there is a connection between the middle class, organic solidarity, the elaborate linguistic code, and the growth of Orthodoxy in Judaism. The Weberian framework emphasizes, among other arguments, the importance of dispositions and habitus – systems of cognition, evaluation, feeling, and action that are inscribed in the personality and the body and are derived from – and reinforce – social (especially class) positions. It shows how, in the realm of religion, the presence or absence of such dispositions serves as criteria for access to symbolic and material goods. Regarding the Marxist tradition, the article suggests that religion, generating autonomous cosmic and social visions, provides a "place" in which one can withdraw and tune out – and even resist – the regnant oppressive socio-economic order. This introductory article shows how the empirical articles of this issue correspond with these theoretical approaches.