Sociology of Religion

Term: Spring 2011

Subject Code: GSOC

Course Number: 5109

One of the greatest challenges to liberal, democratic andrepublican constitutionalism in the 21st century is posed by controversy overthe relation between religion and the public sphere. This course will consideralternative ways in which the state and religion in “secular” constitutionaldemocracies are articulated. Wewill focus on how different conceptual political paradigms—liberalism,republicanism and social-democratic developmentalism--serve as formativeprinciples of constitutional arrangements that lead to alternativeunderstandings of the place of religion in secular polities in the U.S., Franceand India respectively. Among the topicswe shall address are the contested concepts of the secular, secularization andsecularity, the role of religion in the public sphere, the type of state supportthat can or should be given to religious institutions, the relation of religionto fundamental constitutional/human rights, legal pluralism, multiculturaljurisdiction and the privatization (delegation) of state power to religiousgroups. Focusing on legislativeacts and courts decisions, we will explore the tensions and conflicts thatarise between the forms of religious autonomy and control over group members permittedby the state or demanded by the religious with the core democratic andconstitutionalist principles of equal liberty and gender equality.

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