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Thinking Sociologically about Religion and Violence: The Case of ISIS


sociology-of-religionJournal abstract:

How do we make sense of a movement like the Islamic State, where violence and religion seem to be inextricably intertwined? Though observers sometimes accuse religion as causing the problem, and other observers think that such movements have nothing to do with it, my approach is to focus on what some scholars have called the culture of violence: the analysis of worldviews. The sociological task is to understand these worldviews in social context, to determine the social and political factors that have shaped communities that embrace distinctive worldviews. This essay focuses on the social and political development of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, explores the notion of worldview analysis in general and as applied to this movement, and determines that there are at least three different kinds of worldviews related to groups of followers who may survive, in different ways, the eventual collapse of the territorial control of the movement.

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