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This review is taken from PN Review 5, Volume 5 Number 1, October - December 1978.

BURNING THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS K. Thompson and K. Jones, Beliefs and Religion, The Open University Press (The Sociological Perspective: A Second Level Course, Units 12-14), £1.10.

One should never forget, when one moves under the shadow of Max Weber, that he was in the habit of telling his wife that if he didn't work till one in the morning he couldn't be a professor. This grinding academicism, backed by the world of the Prussian ascendancy with its earnest and relentless bureaucracy, colours his work and much of the work that has stemmed from his-unless indeed it is more appropriate to talk of removing the colour from. Weber was born in 1864 and was brought up in Berlin.

The present publication comprises Block Four of a five-block series on The Sociological Perspective. Religion appears here, therefore, as 'a test case in order to examine connections between belief and group interest'. There is something old-world about this. Why pick on religion, for this purpose? The answer to this question must be, because some of the classical masters of sociology tried out their muscles on religion, as was natural (and amusing enough) at the time. Weber had theology in the family, and had certainly read a good deal of it before one o'clock in the morning. It could be argued that, for the students of the Open University, some other 'test case' would have been better. `Durkheim's view of religion', we are told, 'was that it resolved around certain aspects of social life which were considered sacred'; but the 'sacred' aspects of social life, in our world, are overwhelmingly to be found outside the field of ...


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