Sociology and Theology

With and Against the Grain of “the World”


  • David Martin Fellow of the British Academy London School of Economics



Sociology, Theology, Power, Wealth, Violence, Cost


The argument turns on a Weberian account of Christianity as a rejection of “the world” understood as a domain dominated by power, wealth, status, sex and violence; and on a Weberian understanding of how that creates a persistent tension with the realities of power and wealth as articulated by sociology, political science etc. in the economic, political, symbolic and aesthetic spheres. Thus theology, insofar as it articulates the original radical template of Christianity, is against, and sociology is with, “the grain” of the world. Although the Church has to compromise with wealth and power, the template of Christianity implicitly provides a sacred reference point for a whole civilisation, whatever people’s dogmatic commitments or lack of them. The argument examines these compromises, and considers how theology and sociology interact as neighbouring cultural disciplines very different from natural science disciplines. Sociology and theology are cognate in their narrative and contingent character, in spite of different modes of operation.

Author Biography

David Martin, Fellow of the British Academy London School of Economics

Fellow of the British Academy Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics


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How to Cite

Martin, D. (2015). Sociology and Theology: With and Against the Grain of “the World”. Implicit Religion, 18(2), 159–175.