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The Centrality of Religion in Social Life Essays in Honour of James A Beckford

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Eileen Barker| (eds)
Ashgate (October 2008)

Cover of The Centrality of Religion in Social Life: Essays in honour of James A BeckfordJames A Beckford's work is internationally acclaimed not only in the sociology of religion, but also in other fields of the social sciences. Beckford has long been arguing that the barriers that have grown up between the different sub-disciplines should be broken down, with those specialising in religion becoming more cognisant of new theoretical developments, and sociologists in general becoming more aware of the significance of developments in the religious scene.

This book is a collection of essays written in Beckford's honour, drawing on a number of religious themes that have been central to Beckford's interests, whilst also offering a significant contribution to our understanding of the wider society. A central theme is modernity (and its relation to the post-modern), and how religion affects and is affected by the dynamics of contemporary society, with the primary focus of many of the chapters being a concern with how society copes with the minority religions that have become visible with the globalising tendencies of contemporary society. The contributors, who come from America, Asia and various parts of Europe, are all internationally renowned scholars. Beckford's most important publications are listed in an Appendix and the volume opens with a short account of his contribution to sociology by Eileen Barker (the editor) and James T Richardson.

Eileen Barker| is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, with special reference to the study of religion, at LSE.

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'A fitting tribute to a distinguished career: this book is a celebration of James Beckford's lifelong endeavor to make religion central to social theory.'
Professor David Bromley, Virginia Commonwealth University

'The breadth of topics examined in this collection is evidence of James Beckford's many contributions to the sociology of religion and, more importantly, to advancing the argument that we cannot understand society - even presumably today's secular society - without some appreciation for the role of religion. A much deserved recognition.'
Wade Clark Roof, University of California at Santa Barbara

'Befitting the career of James Beckford, this book contributes to a genuinely comparative sociology of religion.'
R Stephen Warner, University of Illinois at Chicago

'An excellent collection of thoughtful and often innovative essays, from some of the best sociologists of religion, developing many of the important themes so masterfully treated in Jim Beckford's work. Chock full of helpful new insights; everyone in the sociology of religion will find something of interest and significance in this book.'
Professor Lorne Dawson, University of Waterloo