Sociology of the Sacred

Religion, Embodiment and Social Change

by Philip A Mellor, Chris Shilling

Series: Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society

"About time! Two key experts in the field remind us of the significance and power of religion as bio-political and bio-economic."
- Beverley Skeggs, Goldsmiths, University of London

"A welcome addition to a continuing body of work by two distinguished theorists of religion."
- Grace Davie, University of Exeter

"Mellor and Shilling cement their place at the pinnacle of the contemporary sociological theorisation of religion and the sacred. If sociological work is going to have any future it is to be found in the inspiration and excitement of this sophisticated and intelligent book."
- Keith Tester
, University of Hull

"This book is ambitious, refreshing and rewarding.  It offers the best available analysis of the complex interlacing of the sacred, religion, secularization and embodied experience."
- James A. Beckford, University of Warwick

Drawing on classical and contemporary social theory, Sociology of the Sacred presents a bold and original account of how interactions between religious and secular forms of the sacred underpin major conflicts in the world today, and illuminate broader patterns of social and cultural change inherent to global modernity. It demonstrates:
  • How the bodily capacities help religions adapt to social change but also facilitate their internal transformation
  • That the ‘sacred’ includes a diverse range of phenomena, with variable implications for questions of social order and change
  • How proponents of a ‘post-secular’ age have failed to grasp the ways in which sacralization can advance secularization
  • Why the sociology of the sacred needs to be a key part of attempts to make sense of the nature and directionality of social change in global modernity today.

This book is key reading for the sociology of religion, the body and modern culture.

In The Press

This book constitutes a welcome addition to a continuing body of work by two distinguished theorists of religion. As ever Mellor and Shilling’s analysis is based on wide reading, careful conceptualization and a very precise delineation of the questions to be addressed. As a result the notion of secularization is interrogated in new ways, which take into account both the continuing vitality of certain forms of religion and, even more importantly, the resurgent significance of imaginatively-constructed notions of the sacred.