Islamic and Friendship Studies at Oberlin College

Topic Proposal

Annalise Cameron

September 25, 2019

Seminar 390

Topic Proposal

New Perspectives: Sociology in Religion

I am interested in researching the sociological connections between the religious readings of these texts in regards to sin and forgiveness. Viewing the religious concepts of sin and forgiveness through a sociological lens expands our understanding of the role, development, and relationship between the individual and society. Uncovering similarities and differences between these two approaches can guide our understanding the complexities of the individual. I am interested in factors such as construction of the identity, the relationship between the society and individual, and many of the structural factors of social and familial settings specifically within religious environments. The body of research concerning the relationship between sociology and religion is extremely minimal. There is very little classical or contemporary theory on the subject and the research that has recently emerged does not quite tackle all of the components I want to explore. I would like to see how analyzing sin and forgiveness from a sociological perspective in relation to their religious applications affects my own understanding.

Thus far I have begun researching themes of identity and love in religious and sociological perspectives. There have been multiple major connections I have identified, such as the intrinsic link between religious identity and particular elements of the social construction of faith. The significance of community both religiously and sociologically affects personal versus collective identity of an individual. As another component of the social organization of a society, continuing developing more information of the structure and role of communities in Islam and Christianity. There is notable emphasis on community as a space where many practices, rituals, and lessons occur. This may suggest that community as a social and religious factor in this research has a lot to contribute.  I have also started analyzing the role of love in sociological and religious understandings. On the surface, it may seem like the relationship is narrow. However, I see is as that has much potential for development. I found very little classical theory that touches on love and some contemporary arguments. Overall there was a serious lack of material on this subject. I plan on looking into a different variety of sources, such as methodologies with in-depth interviews as a strategy to capture raw human emotion in a qualitative approach. Fortunately, there significant religious material that is rooted in love conceptually.

I would like to continue reading sociological sources that open a dialogue on elements of sin and forgiveness and analyze them in comparison to our religious readings. I think the relationship between Christianity and Islam in this framework is important to examine because it is clear that there are distinct social and cultural implications of each. Perhaps this would be interesting to see the theoretical relation to how peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation exist in our real world. Gaining a deeper understanding of the many social and moral layers that exist in our behavior as humans might shed light on the motives and logic behind many social and political tendencies. Applying this to solutions towards peace in our global community may be possible as well.

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