1950s and 1960s
Talcott Parsons, who stressed above everything the integrative role of religion.
Religion – a functional prerequisite – was central to the complex models of social systems and social action elaborated by Parsons. In bringing together these two elements (i.e., social systems and social action), Parsons was drawing on both Durkheim and Weber
social order should be underpinned by religious values was widespread.
the 1960s gave way to a far less confident decade, the
sociology of religion shifted once again. This time to the social construction of meaning
systems epitomized by the work of Berger and Luckmann (1966). The Parsonian model
is inverted; social order exists but it is constructed from below. So constructed, religion
offers believers crucial explanations and meanings which they use to make sense of
their lives, not least during times of personal or social crisis. Hence Berger’s (1967) idea
of religion as a form of “sacred canopy” that shields both individual and society from
“the ultimately destructive consequences of a seemingly chaotic, purposeless existence”
The mood of the later 1970s, profoundly shaken by the oil crisis and its
effects on economic growth, reflects the need for meaning and purpose (no longer could these simply be assumed). The 1970s merge, moreover, into the modern period, a world in which conflict – including religious conflict – rather than consensus dominates the agenda (Beckford 1989: 8–13). Religion has not only become increasingly prominent but also increasingly contentious.