Rational Choice Theory and prison chaplaincy: the chaplain's dilemma
UNSPECIFIED. (1999) Rational Choice Theory and prison chaplaincy: the chaplain's dilemma. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY, 50 (4). pp. 671-685. ISSN 0007-1315Full text not available from this repository.
Critical responses to the application of Rational Choice theories to the study of religious phenomena tend to be polarized between outright denial that the theories have any relevance to religion and equally outspoken claims that the theories are the only hope for progress in the sociology of religion. This article aims to avoid both of these extreme positions by raising a question, instead, about one of Rational Choice's central propositions about religion. Tills proposition holds that levels of religious vitality vary positively with the degree to-which agencies of the state are prevented from regulating religious activity. The findings of recent research into prison chaplaincy in the UK and the USA will be used to test this claim. The main argument will be that the existence of an established church has facilitated a higher level of religious activity, especially for minority faiths, in prisons in England and Wales than is possible in American prisons. This difference in religious vitality is explained in terms of the Church of England's privileged position as a 'broker' between the state and minority faith communities. There is greater equality of opportunity for religious activity in American prisons, bur the level of die activity is necessarily lower. In neither country is there anp thing truly resembling a 'free' market for religion in prisons, but the established Church of England is able to use its quasi-monopoly powers to broker advantageous conditions for minority faith communities. This brokerage function may be advantageous to all religious organizations in the highly regulated 'economy' of prisons.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HM Sociology|
|Journal or Publication Title:||BRITISH JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY|
|Official Date:||December 1999|
|Number of Pages:||15|
|Page Range:||pp. 671-685|
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