Hans Mol

Topics: Sociology, Religion, Religious studies Pages: 27 (7433 words) Published: December 5, 2012
Nanzan University

The Identity Model of Religion: How It Compares with Nine Other Theories of Religion and How It Might Apply to Japan Author(s): Hans Mol Source: Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1/2, Proceedings of the 1978 Tokyo Meeting of the Conference Internationale de Sociologie Religieuse (Mar. - Jun., 1979), pp. 1138 Published by: Nanzan University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30233189 . Accessed: 25/09/2011 12:00 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

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Opening Lecture

The Identity Model of Religion: How It Compares with Nine Other Theories of Religion and How It Might Apply to Japan Hans MOL

The identity model of religionattemptsto providea comprehensive, social scientific accountingscheme coveringa large variety of data from both ancient and modem religions. Ratherambitiously,it furtherattemptsto fit in both the prevailing anthropological,psychological,and sociologicaltheories of man and society, and the contemporaryethological accountsof primatebehavior. It is only in the last ten yearsthat a dozen or so sociologists in as many countrieshave begun to use identity as a major variableto account for the religiousdata of their research. The anthropologist William Christianfound in NorthernSpain a close correspondencebetween shrines and the levels on which people formeda community,or had a senseof identity (nation, region, province, vale, village, barriada).Not the least influentialin this way of thinkinghas been Moriokaand Shimpo's detection of a similar correspondencein Japan between Buddhismand familyidentity, Shinto and communal identity, and Christianityand personalidentity. Recently a book has been published(Mol 1978) in which a dozen scholars fromall overthe worldrelatereligionto the identity variable. In this opening address I first want to discuss what this rather recent and novel "identity" model is all about. Subsequently I want to compareit with nine other socialscientific 1979 Journalof ReligiousStudies 6/1-2 March-June Japanese 11


theories of religion. Finally I want to apply it to the little I know aboutreligionin Japan. IDENTITYTHEORY INTRODUCING

" of Meanings "identity. Identity theory is a theory which links frame to identity in orderto providea comprehensive religion of reference for the large amount of data about religion in the social sciences. to The term "identity"has been chosen in preference other such as meaning,integration, of reality, interpretation concepts "wholeorder, security, and the like. It connotes "sameness," ness," "boundary,"and "structure."And these concepts in turn are crucial for the understandingof the function of religionfor individualsas well as for groups,both in primitive andin modernsocieties. This means that the term "identity"may referto individual identity, groupidentity, or social identity. On all these levels identity has somethingto do with a tendency toward "sameness" or stability, with a tendency toward "wholeness"or integration of traits, or with a strengtheningof boundaries aroundthe unit in question. To give an example of each: personalidentity is the wholeness of a person,in so far as this personattemptsto be and to remaina well-functioning unit in his environment.Similarly, a group will not have identity unless it coheres andmaintains Thus again the itself as a viable system in its surroundings....
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