Diversification and internationalization in the sociological study of science and religion

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  • University of Bayreuth


Classical sociology addressed the relationship between science and religion, but interest in the topic waned during the 20th century. A second wave of research has emerged in the 21st century, focusing on scientists' (ir)religiosity, evolution, and the relationship between knowledge and acceptance of scientific concepts. Most of this research has been conducted in the United States, used quantitative methods, and focused on creationism, although scholars have recently begun to explore different research methods and sites. Their results suggest that the “conflict thesis” is not valid and that publics and scientists' views tend to be fluid and strongly shaped by national context. The literature on nonreligion has also expanded, but its connection to science remains ripe for further development. A more intersectional approach would also benefit the field, as would increased engagement between public understanding of science scholars and sociologists studying science and religion. Research in both areas is showing that attitudes toward science and religion cannot be understood solely in terms of knowledge about either domain. There is scope for more empirical and theoretical work internationally eschewing the assumption that science and religion conflict and focusing more on identity, culture, and power relations.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12721
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number8
Early online date10 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019