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Popular Religiosity

Manuel M. Marzal

Subject Religion
Sociology » Sociology of Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Religion refers to a system of beliefs, rites, forms of organization, ethical norms, and feelings about the divine which help human beings to transcend and make sense of life. Popular religiosity is the equivalent of the religion of the common people, or popular piety, the way common people live their religion. It contrasts with official religiosity, which characterizes the specialists and the elites. There are several differences between these two kinds of religiosity (see Dupront 1987 ). The first difference is that official religiosity considers the foundational hierophany, or manifestation of the sacred, to be very important. The more complex religious systems have specialists who analyze the contents of the original sacred mysteries and consider them as something to be preserved and protected. On the other hand, popular religiosity pays attention to ritual practices and how to obtain help from divine beings. For example, in Buddhism, specialists discuss Buddha's thoughts on nirvana and the value of religious silence to assure transcendence, while the common people take part in rites honoring Buddha in order to obtain favors in day-to-day life. The second difference is that official religiosity is transmitted by the mechanisms of socialization within each religious institution, such as formal instruction or catechesis. Popular religiosity, on the other hand, is transmitted ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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