Good research paper topics in religion and sociology

Religion and sociology are a combination of disciplines ripe for good research paper topics. Religion, with its many distinct types and practitioners, plays an important role in many people’s lives, as well as in social, economic, political and educational issues. Some examples are religion as a public institution, the influence of Pope Francis or diversity in congregations. For your religion and sociology term paper, search the Internet for academic journals, religion databases and sociology blogs.

Pope Francis makes for a good religion and sociology research topic. (Credit: Valdrin Xhemaj /EPA /LANDOV)

Pope Francis makes for a good religion and sociology research topic. (Credit: Valdrin Xhemaj /EPA /LANDOV)

De-centralizing the sociology of religion

For religion and society topics for your term paper, check out the Questia database of books, journals and newspaper articles. In Questia’s religion library, the book “Religion on the Edge: De-Centering and Re-Centering the Sociology of Religion,” by Courtney Bender, Wendy Cadge, et al. offers a variety of socially relevant topics about the intersection of religion and sociology and other disciplines. The authors also avoid taken-for-granted topics that focus on the U.S. context of religion, Christianity, congregations and portrayals of religion as a positive force in American life.

Rather, the book offers research topics such as:

  • religion as a visible, public institution
  • religious politics and cross-regional comparisons
  • global migration of religious culture and consumption
  • religious differences in secular organizations (e.g., hospital chapels)
  • technologies and limits of reconciliation.

The “Pope Francis Effect”

New rising star, Pope Francis, has been having a major effect on Catholicism and the world in general, and would be a good research paper topic. Pope Francis’s urging to not condemn gays, to live a humble life and to give to charity has resonated with many religious and non-religious people. In the area of charity, a recent survey showed that 25 percent of American Catholics had increased their charitable giving in 2013; of those, 77 percent said it was because of the Pope’s message.

“It is clear that Pope Francis and his message of mercy and joy, and a special concern for the poor, are inspiring U.S. Catholics in their giving,” said Alexia Kelley, head of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, an association that promotes Catholic philanthropy, posted by David Gibson in “‘Pope Francis Effect’ Has Had An Impact On Catholic Charity, Survey Claims,” on Huffington Post, March 16, 2014.

Religion and sociology and inequality

Another research paper topic could be the relationship between religion and economic inequalities. For example, research has been done recently that shows that religious affiliation and beliefs affect a person’s well-being, education, income and wealth. Religion and inequality are seen in gender inequality, immigrant status, conservative politics, labor markets, religious and social stratification, business and economic decisions and policy, and psychological well-being among older adults, according to the 2014 book “Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification,” edited by Lisa A. Keister and Darren E. Sherkat.

Religion and congregation diversity

Another issue in religion and sociology is the diversity in today’s congregations. On the website of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, in “Changes Congregations Are Facing Today: A Tenth Anniversary Series,” Lovett H. Weems, Jr., professor of church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, wrote that congregations in the United States are still very homogeneous, Protestant branches more so than Catholic churches. Why? In part due to housing patterns that cluster people in self-imposed social segregation. Nevertheless, all this is changing. Churches are placing a priority on representing the diversity of their communities. “It is important for churches to see diversity as a part of their basic mission to serve all the people God has given them in their communities,” said Weems.

Check out Questia’s religion library for topics for research. 

How do you think religion and sociology are influenced in society?

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