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Religions 2019, 10(2), 99;

Reflections on the Evolution of the State of the Art

Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 2 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Politics: New Developments Worldwide)
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Reflections on the evolution of the state of the art in the study of religion, society, and politics in Latin America over the last five decades begin with a critical assessment of the conventional wisdom of fifty years ago, as conveyed in texts and in graduate education. Stress was placed on modernization and secularization (with religion depicted as static and destined to decline) on consensus as a foundation for social life, and on drawing clear lines between religion and politics. These concepts were of little use when confronted in the late 1960s with a reality of continuous change, conflict, and efforts from left and right to assert a public role for religion. Working concepts of religion and politics had to be broadened well beyond church and state. Conceptual space had to be found for religious pluralism as the emergence of Pentecostal and evangelical churches was putting an end to centuries of Catholic monopoly: Latin America was becoming religiously plural. The state of the art is now much improved. Current and future research could usefully focus attention on issues like sexuality, gender, and identity, spirituality and encounters with charismatic power, and the new realities of religion and violence. Mid-range theories that give prominence to change and to the relation among social levels, and mixed methodologies that highlight meaning and significance will be central to any future state of the art that can make sense of a reality marked by continuing waves of creative change. View Full-Text
Keywords: Latin America; religion; politics; methodology; theory Latin America; religion; politics; methodology; theory

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Levine, D. Reflections on the Evolution of the State of the Art. Religions 2019, 10, 99.

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