Monash University Handbooks 2008

RLM4100 - Religion and ceremony in Australian Society

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Dr Thomas Reuter


Clayton First semester 2008 (Day)


This unit offers an exploration of contemporary belief systems and ritual practices in Australian society, from the perspective of social theory and within a historical context of major global changes in the way religion and ceremony operate in society. The underlying reasons behind these new developments in religion and ceremonial practice will be explored by analyzing a variety of different agendas and organizational forms, ranging from fundamentalist movements to New Age groups, Pentecostal Christianity, eco-spirituality and neo-religious youth subcultures. International trends and influences will be considered together with the unique history and phenomenology of religion in Australia.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Define at least two basic, classical social theory approaches to the study of religion and critique them with the help of contemporary theory in sociology, anthropology and post-colonial studies;
  2. Describe and analyze the various ways in which religions have developed historically, especially with the advent of modernity, both internationally and within Australian society;
  3. Analyze a historical or contemporary manifestation of the action of religion in society by applying social theories of religion;
  4. Provide a critical account of the role of fundamentalism, revivalism and charismatic movements at both an international and a local level;
  5. Analyze the impact of new trends in religion and ceremonial practice on the re-imagining of multiculturalism and on inter-faith relations in Australia.


Class presentation and written synopsis (2000 words): 25%; Research essay (7000 words): 75%.

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week


RLT4100, RLM5100

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