Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version


(1915-1978) Sociologist of religion. As a student at Columbia University, he found Robert K. Merton's references to manifest and latent functions suggestive for studying nonlogical action. His dissertation under Merton compared Sigmund Freud's and Thorstein Veblen's theories. Later disowning the Freudian model, Schneider's line of inquiry led nevertheless to studies of practical psychologies behind economic conduct (e.g., deferred gratification) and their unanticipated consequences (as depicted by the Scottish moralists).

Schneider was a functionalist in Merton's middle-range, ad hoc manner rather than in Parsons's system approach. With Sanford Dornbusch, he studied nonlogical religious conduct in an analysis of inspirational books. Over time, this literature spoke less of pain and sacrifice, and more of serenity and success: Could its latent function be achieved if it became manifest (i.e., transparent)? He began to see religion as a major nonrational aspect of culture. Given that ironic consequences rather than beliefs were focal, he advocated wide rather than narrow definitions of religion, including nonchurch quests and political ideologies. He observed nonreligious styles of action entering religious contexts, such as secular protest modalities in a dispute among Catholic clerics.

Schneider's reader, Religion, Culture, and Society (Wiley 1964), influenced a generation of scholars in the sociology of religion; his Sociological Approach to Religion (Wiley 1970) promoted functionalism in an era in which younger sociologists found that functionalism legitimated the status quo in a way that Schneider himself, ironically, would not have wished. His students in the sociology of religion include Richard Machalek, Donald A. Nielsen, and Anthony J. Blasi.

Anthony J. Blasi


L. Schneider, The Freudian Psychology and Veblen's Social Theory (New York: King's Crown, 1948)

L. Schneider (ed.), The Scottish Moralists on Human Nature and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967)

L. Schneider, "Ideological Conflict Between Clergy and Laity," Social Science Quarterly 49(1969):925-927

L. Schneider, "The Sociology of Religion," Sociological Analysis 31(1970):131-144

L. Schneider, "Dialectical Orientation and the Sociology of Religion," Sociological Inquiry 49(1974a):49-73

L. Schneider, "The Scope of the 'Religious Factor' and the Sociology of Religion," Social Research 41(1974b):340-361

L. Schneider, The Grammar of Social Relations (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1984)

L. Schneider and S. M. Dornbusch, Popular Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958)

L. Schneider and S. Lysgaard, "The Deferred Gratification Pattern," American Sociological Review 18(1953):142-159

L. Schneider and L. Zurcher, Jr., "Toward Understanding the Catholic Crisis," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 9 (1970):197-207.

return to Encyclopedia Table of Contents

Hartford Institute for Religion Research   hirr@hartsem.edu
Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105  860-509-9500