PETER B. CLARKE is Professor of the History and Sociology of Religion at King's College London, where he is also Director of the Centre for New Religions and Director of the Japanese New Religions Project.
Featuring a newly written introduction and conclusion which frame the volume and offer the reader guidance on how the arguments fit together, this book brings together ten previously published pieces which focus on the institutional forms and concept of religion in the context of globalizing and modern society. The guiding theme that they all share is the idea that religion and globalization are historically, conceptually, and institutionally related. What has come to constitute religion and what social roles religion plays are not manifestations of a timeless essence, called religion, or even a requirement of human societies. In concept and institutional form, religion is an expression of the historical process of globalization, above all during modern centuries. What religion has become is one of the outcomes of the successive transformations and developments that have brought about contemporary global society.
Including some of the most important theoretical work in the field of religion and globalization, this collection provokes the reader to consider paths for future research in the area, and will be of great interest to students and scholars of religion and politics, globalization and religion and sociology.
Peter B. Clarke’s in-depth account explores the innovative character of new religious movements and new forms of spirituality from a global vantage point. Ranging from North America and Europe to Japan, Latin America, South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, it is the perfect introduction to NRMs such as Falun Gong, Aum Shirikyo, the Brahma Kumaris, the Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood, Sufism, the Engaged Buddhist and Engaged Hindi movements, Messianic Judaism and Rastafarianism.
Charting the cultural significance and global impact of NRMs, he discusses the ways in which various religious traditions are shaping, rather than displacing, each other’s understanding of notions such as transcendence and faith, good and evil, of the meaning, purpose and function of religion, and of religious belonging. He then examines the responses of governments, churches, the media and general public to new religious movements, as well as the reaction to older, increasingly influential religions, such as Buddhism and Islam, in new geographical and cultural contexts. Taking into account the degree of continuity between old and new religions, each chapter contains not only an account of the rise of the NRMs and new forms of spirituality in a particular region, but also an overview of change in the regions’ mainstream religions.
Written with exceptional clarity and illustrated with lively and diverse examples ranging from Islam and Hinduism to African traditional religions and new age spirituality, this is a fascinating overview of how religion has developed in a globalized society. It is recommended reading for students taking courses on sociology of religion, religion and globalization, and religion and modernity.