The Social Construction of “Religion” and Its Limits: A Critical Reading of Timothy Fitzgerald

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Kevin Schilbrack Department of Philosophy and Religion 226-A Stillwell, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723 USA

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Several theorists argue that the concept of “religion” is not a cultural universal but rather emerged under particular historical and political conditions in the modern post-Reformation west. “Religion,” they say, is a social construction. What are the implications of this view of the ontology of religion? My aim in this paper is to critically engage the arguments of Timothy Fitzgerald—a social constructionist about religion who combines, in my judgment, insight and confusion on the issue—in order to trace out the values and the limits of this approach.

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