Thirty years after founding INFORM, the information network on religious movements, Eileen Barker argues that the sociology of
religion still has an important role in “knowing the causes of things”.
Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have remarked, “I don’t like that man; I must get to know him better”. Today the world is populated by religions that most of us do not like.
Throughout most of the 20th century, there was a rumour that secularisation was a worldwide phenomenon; by the 21st century, however, diversification was emerging as a more prominent theme. But by then, many of the social sciences had abandoned the study of religion, being either blind to, or uninterested in, the ways in which religious, spiritual and fundamentally atheistic beliefs were affecting not only lives at the individual level, but also the political, economic and cultural institutions of society.
This talk will argue, with a variety of illustrations, that the sociological study of religions is essential for a comprehensive understanding of our contemporary global society. It will maintain that we must get to know them better.
In 1988, with the support of the Home Office and the mainstream Churches, Eileen Barker set up INFORM, an NGO affiliated to the Sociology Department at LSE which supplies information about alternative religions that is as objective and up-to-date as possible. A former governor of INFORM, Conor Gearty is a current member of INFORM's advisory panel.
This event will celebrate Eileen's work over the past 30 years. As such, a celebratory drinks reception will follow the lecture.
Eileen Barker is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at LSE with Special Reference to the Study of Religion.
Conor Gearty @conorgearty is Professor of Human Rights Law at LSE.
Nigel Dodd (@nigelbdodd) is Professor of Sociology, LSE.
The Department of Sociology at LSE (@LSEsociology) was established in 1904 and remains committed to top quality teaching and leading research and scholarship today.
Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEreligion
A podcast of this event is available to download from Is God Really Dead? Why Belief Matters.
Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.