1. Demonstrate how to “think sociologically” by analyzing each component of the
religious service using sociological concepts, theories, and terminology such as the
social construction of reality, dominant ideology, impression management, etc.
2. Explain how / if this experiment on religious culture challenges ethnocentric points
of view regarding negative (deviant) labels of some categories of individuals and
3. Explain how using cultural relativism can contribute to your growth and understanding of other cultures.
You will complete the study just as you are instructed in parts 1, 2 and 3, paying particular attention to all of the questions in Part 3, making sure that you answer each thoroughly.
1. Observing Service
Select a House of Worship and attend a service there.
Any service is fine as long as it is open to the public. If you are unfamiliar with the House of Worship that you want to attend, you might want to call first to find out if there are any dress codes or other requirements that you need to know before entering. Remember, when you visit your chosen House of Worship, you must behave in a respectful manner. Once there, your task will be to closely observe your surroundings and all that takes place (and in which you might participate.)
2. Write your notes on what you observe.
Since it is probably not appropriate to jot down notes during the service, you may make an effort to write your field notes as soon as you can afterward so you can preserve as many details as possible from the experience. Your field notes should comprise three or more pages and include descriptions of material and non-material symbolic culture. Consider some of the material culture you might find in the setting, such as the architecture, furniture, decorations, clothing worn by various participants, and other physical objects such as scrolls, books,musical instruments such as collection plates. You also want to consider the elements of symbolic culture featured in the services. Pay close attention to the people there and what they do–their roles, activities, and interactions. Notice how the service is structured.
3. Identifying culture
*What aspects of material culture did you notice? How were things arranged and what were their function? Were any objects used as part of the service?
*What did you notice about language? Was there a text or script for the services? What sources were used (sacred books, hymnals, printed programs? Was music play or sung or both?
* Who was present for the service–clergy, congregation, others? Were there adults, children, men, and women? Specific roles held—leaders, helpers, participants?
* When did participants stand, sit, sing, pray, kneel meditate, etc.?
* According to Durkheim, every religion has a set of practices that are designed to connect the holy and the worldly in some way. Think about the meaning of the different rituals you observed: communion, praying/singing in a designated space. How do rituals help create collective conscience or sense of belonging among the congregants?
* What did you observe that seemed especially unfamiliar to you? What was familiar to you even if it was in an unfamiliar setting? What insights were you able to gain by suspending ethnocentrism and practicing cultural relativism?
Finally, you will discuss at least three (3) concepts and/or theories that appear to be relevant to this assignment.
Write a 3½ – 4 page essay analyzing your field experiences and taking into consideration the questions in step 3. Make sure you refer to your field notes.