From Five to Ten Dimensions of Religion

Charles Y. Glock’s Dimensions of Religiosity Revisited


  • Jean-Guy Vaillancourt Retired, University of Montreal



Sociology of Religion, Dimensions of Religion, Typology


Charles Y. Glock made a fundamental contribution to the sociological study of religion when, in order to ‘operationalize’ the concept of religion, he distinguished five major dimensions of religiosity: belief, experience, practice, theology (i.e., knowledge), and ethics (i.e., consequences). Going beyond these five important dimensions of religiosity, we can redefine the concept of religion by adding five more dimensions in order to take into account some of the structural and sociological components of religion. This expanded ‘dimensionalization’ of the concept of religion, grounded in the writings of classical and contemporary scholars, offers an updated and more complete instrument for the understanding and analysis of contemporary religious phenomena. With this new comprehensive view of the concept of religion, identity becomes a central and fundamental dimension, together with statuses, affiliation, community, and the relation to the divine (or the sacred).

Author Biography

Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Retired, University of Montreal

Jean-Guy Vaillancourt has recently retired from the Université de Montreal in Canada, where he was Professor in the Department of Sociology. He has published thirty books and special issues of journals on peace movements with a major focus on religion, violence and the natural environment. His book, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites (Berkeley 1980) is acknowledged as a major scholarly contribution to our understanding of the contemporary papacy. He has published in fields as varied as eco-sociology, sociology of peace, social movements and organizations and religion. For more information, see http://www.socio.


Bizeul, Y. 1991 L’identité protestante. Étude de la minorité protestante en France. Klincksieck, Paris.

Carrier, H. 1965 The Sociology of Religious Belonging. Herder & Herder, New York.

Despland, M. 1979 La religion en Occident. Evolution des idées et du vécu. Fides, Montréal.

Durkheim, É. 1915 The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. George Allen & Unwin, London [1912].

Faulkner, J.E., and G.F. De Jong 1966 Religiosity in 5D: An Empirical Analysis. Social Forces 45.2: 246-54. doi:10.2307/2574395

Fichter, J. 1959 Sociological Measurement of Religiosity. Review of Religious Research 10.3: 169-77. doi:10.2307/3510744

Fukuyama, Y. 1961 The Major Dimensions of Church Membership. Review of Religious Research 2: 154-161. doi:10.2307/3510955

Glock, C.Y. 1954 Towards a Typology of Religious Orientation. Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University, NY.

Y a-t-il un réveil religieux aux États-Unis? Archives de sociologie des religions 6.12: 35-52.

On the Study of Religious Commitment. Religious Education 57.4: 98-110.

Glock, C.Y., and R. Stark 1965 Religion and Society in Tension. Rand McNally, Chicago.

Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism. Harper & Row, New York.

Hargrove, B. 1979 The Sociology of Religion: Classical and Contemporary Approaches. AHM Publishing Co., Arlington Heights, IL.

Hervieu-Léger, D., and J.-P. Willaime 2001 Sociologie et religions: approches classiques. Presses universitaires de France, Paris.

James, W. 1902 The Varieties of Religious Experience. Longmans Green & Co., New York.

King, M. 1967 Measuring the Religious Variable: Nine Proposed Dimensions. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 6: 173-85. doi:10.2307/1384044

Lenski, G. 1961 The Religious Factor. Doubleday, Garden City, NY.

McGuire, Meredith B. 2002 The Social Context. Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

Merton, R.K., L. Broom and L.S. Cottrell Jr. (eds.) 1959 Sociology Today. Problems and Prospects. Basic Books, New York.

Otto, R. 1923 The Idea of the Holy. Oxford University Press, London.

Ringgren, H., and A.V. Ström 1960 Les religions du monde. Payot, Paris.

Stark, R., and C.Y. Glock 1968 American Piety: The Nature of Religious Commitment. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Steinberg, S. 1965 The Anatomy of Jewish Identification: A Historical and Theoretical View. Review of Religious Research 7.1: 1-8. doi:10.2307/3509829

Touraine, A. 2005 Un nouveau paradigme. Pour aider à comprendre le monde actuel. Fayard, Paris.

Van der Leeuw, G. 1933 La phénoménologie de la religion. Presses universitaires de France, Paris.

Wach, J. 1944 Sociology of Religion. Chicago University Press, Chicago.

Winter, A. 1977 Continuities in the Sociology of Religion. Harper & Row, New York.



How to Cite

Vaillancourt, J.-G. (2008). From Five to Ten Dimensions of Religion: Charles Y. Glock’s Dimensions of Religiosity Revisited. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 21(1), 58–69.