Analyzing Intradenominational Conflict: New Directions
Transformations within religious institutions and traditions often occur via conflict and internal social movements. Yet previous research on such phenomena has missed some important sociological insights because it has not incorporated methodological and theoretical resources from other sociological literatures dealing with social movements and organizational change and conflict. This paper presents a comprehensive critical review of extant research on intradenominational conflict and identifies and describes five shortcomings in this literature. As a corrective, we suggest that analysts focus on organizations and conflict events as units of analysis, pay more attention to ideal factors in conflict, examine relationships between internal and external variables, and compare conflicts across organizations and across time. These alternative methodological recommendations are related to three new theoretical directions in other sociological subfields: resource mobilization theory's focus on intermediate levels of social life, the "new institutionalist" emphasis on how organizational actors respond to their environments, and the recent work on the interplay of "schemas" and "resources" in social structure. Such new directions address questions that were not accessible via earlier approaches. They also begin to build important bridges between the sociology of religion and other sociological subfields.
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