Between Durkheim and Geertz - Progress of the Theory of Religion in Social Sciences

Nikola Balaš



Émile Durkheim's famous book Elementary Forms of Religious Life is one of the most important contributions to the sociology of religion. For years, it had been praised and cited as well as criticised and condemned. The book had become a charter of subsequent generations of social scientists, especially those who studied phenomena of society and religion. However, in 1966, an American cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz presented his opinion claiming that Durkheim's theory of religion as well as the theories of religion of Freud, Malinowski and Weber should be substituted with more subtle and superior theory of religion. A superior theory of religion was supposed to be Geertz's theory presented in a paper entitled "Religion as Cultural System". Did Geertz understand Durkheim's theory adequately, so that we can agree with Geertz's claim of surpassing the clas- sic authors like Durkheim?


sociologie náboženství; antropologie náboženství; filosofie; teoretický pokrok; sociology of religion; anthropology of religion; philosophy; theoretical progress; Émile Durkheim; Clifford Geertz

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: