Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gravel, Pierre Bettez

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology and Anthropology


Religion and sociology; Social change


Renomizing, the term I have proposed in this paper, refers to pur­poseful activities of people who, since they do not find a coherent mean­ingful order in the existing social conditions, try to evolve a new theod­icy which explains those conditions in terms of realizing a meaningful nomos, or order in the future. Renomizing movements are endemic in situations where the people are subjected to oppressive cultural conditions over which they have no control. These movements are non-normative in the present and are in all instances future-oriented, even when the explanations offered involve the use of symbols of the past or present. Since, by essence, they pertain to culture change, these movements are explained, often, as revolutionary or as radical. What escapes these explanations is that the people are trying to provide themselves with a meaningful order: if it is new theod­icy which is conceived as capable of providing a meaningful order, it is not because of its inherent revolutionary or radical doctrines but due to the activities oriented outside of institutionalized modes of expressive and instrumental behavior. A common theoretical interpretation of social phenomena is to con­ceive them as elements or parts constituting the cultural whole. The ele­ments are construed as contributing or functioning for the maintenance of the whole, a presupposition which raises ontological questions. This ori­entation, which we may call as integrative approach, explains renomizing movements as suggestive of a culture adjusting to internal changes. Morphological typologies are usually provided on the basis of similarities in the 'function' of elements. In contrast to this approach the phenomenologist looks for uniformity in the phenomena itself. Man's subjective ex­perience and the underlying uniformity in responses exemplified in the phenomena, with little or no reference to the cultural context, form the basis of phenomenological inquiry. In contrast to the phenomenologist who attempts at classifications on the basis of similarities in psychological and religious 'structures', there are those who put the emphasis on the historic continuity of the culture and compare the phenomena on the basis of evolutionary changes, or new forms developed by groups of people under specific conditions. There are, then, these three approaches: 1. inte­grative— observing the cultural whole and the elements thereof; 2. phenomenol­ogical—observing human response; 3. socio-historic— observing social levels of historic development of institutions. The underlying processes of renomizing movements are not made clear in most studies: the studies have explained the origins and functions of the movements in relation to the culture in which the movements arise, or have explained the movements as phenomena representing religious and polit­ical institutions. This paper draws attention to the need to have further research on renomizing activities that might show its relationship to culture change, technological development and 'progress'. In order to bring to­gether the findings and inferences of the three different approaches, and to view together all the movements engaged in evolving a future-oriented nomos, or meaningful order, I have proposed the category "renomizing move­ments".


Includes bibliographical references.


77 pages




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