Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1914-1994) For many years a Dominican priest. After leaving the order, he studied Marxism at length, evidenced in his books Marxisme et religions (P.U.F. 1962) and Socialismes et sociologie religieuse (Cujas 1965), without ever becoming a Marxist. His work is not completely systematic, due to his manifold interests, although these do examine particularly the development of religious movements of the innovative-utopian kind, for example, The American Shakers (University of Massachusetts Press 1974 [1955]), Sociology of Hope (Routledge 1979 [1973]), Les religions de contrebande (Mame 1974), La société festive (Seuil 1975). Aware of the interdisciplinary slant of the study of religious phenomena (see Introduction aux sciences humaines des religions , with coauthor J. Séguy [Cujas 1970], L'homme et ses religions [Cerf 1972]), he inspired, together with others, the Archives des sciences sociales des religions , a journal of primary importance at the international level.

His analysis of the historical development of the sociology of religion in Jacob and the Angel (University of Massachusetts Press 1973; originally Sociologies religieuses , P.U.F. 1968) distinguishes between a sociologized theology (also called sociotheology) and an atheological sociology (the latter more closely tied to writers considered as classics in the field). Having studied a multitude of collective religious experiences in depth in his Dieux d'hommes (1969), he often stressed the relations between Christianity and socialism. He complemented his research with commitment at the practical level in the areas of cooperation and development, especially in the context of the Intergroupe Religion-Développement (IRD) at the Centre de Recherches Coopératives de l'École Pratique des Hautes Études (Vie section) in Paris. He also founded the Collège Coopératif, a cultural foundation for the Third World.

Roberto Cipriani


J. Séguy, "In Memoriam," Archives des sciences sociales des religions 87(1994):5-12.

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