Marx, Critical Theory, and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice

Marx, Critical Theory, and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice

by Warren S. Goldstein (Editor)


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The Sociology of Religion has had several frameworks guiding its analysis including functionalism, interpretive sociology, phenomenology, symbolic interactionism and now rational choice theory. Marxism has tended to ignore religion assuming it is something that would eventually disappear even though it retained theological elements. This collection of essays brings together a group of scholars who use frameworks provided by Marx and Critical Theory in analyzing religion. It's goal is to establish a critical theory of religion within the sociology of religion as an alternative to rational choice. In doing so, it engages in a critique of the positivism, uncritical praise of the market (neoconservativism) and one dimensional conception of rationality of the rational choice theory of religion.

Warren S. Goldstein (Ph.D. New School for Social Research) is Executive Director of the Center for Critical Research on Religion ( and a Visiting Fellow (2009-2010) of The Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. He has published articles in several journals including Critical Sociology, Sociology of Religion, Implicit Religion, and Humanity and Society. His research revolves around developing a critical sociology of religion (with a dialectical theory of secularization as its central focus) as a "new paradigm" in the sociology of religion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608460410
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Series: Studies in Critical Social Sciences Series
Pages: 410
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Warren S. Goldstein, Ph.D. (1998) in Sociology, New School for Social Research, is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. He has published several articles which come out of his doctoral dissertation entitled Messianism and Marxism: Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch's Dialectical Theories of Secularization.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction: Marx, Critical Theory, and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice Warren S. Goldstein 1

I Marx

Opium as Dialectics of Religion: Metaphor, Expression and Protest Andrew M. McKinnon 11

The Origin of Political Economy and the Descent of Marx William Clare Roberts 31

II Critical Theory

Toward a Dialectical Sociology of Religion: A Critique of Positivism and Clerico-Fascism Rudolf J. Siebert 61

Psalm 91 Max Horkheimer Translated by Michael R. Ott 115

The Notion of the Totally "Other" and its Consequence in the Critical Theory of Religion and the Rational Choice Theory of Religion Michael R. Ott 121

From A Beautiful Mind to the Beautiful Soul: Rational Choice, Religion, and the Critical Theory of Adorno & Horkheimer Christopher Craig Brittain 151

Intersubjectivity and Religious Language: Toward a Critique of Regressive Trends in Thanatology Kenneth G. MacKendrick 179

III Religion

Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity: A Critical Dialectical/Conflict Approach to Biblical History Warren S. Goldstein 205

The Concept of Choice in the Rise of Christianity: A Critique of Rational-Choice Theory George Lundskow 223

Speaking in Tongues: A Dialectic of Faith and Practice Bonnie Wright Anne Warfield Rawls 249

From the Caliphate to the Shaheedim: Toward a Critical Theory of Islam Lauren Langman 285

Operationalizing the Critical Theory of Religion David Gay Warren S. Goldstein Anna Campbell Buck 343

About the Authors 359

References 363

Index 389

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