In Society, Spirituality, and the Sacred, Swenson draws on both Weber's Charisma and Routinization of Charisma and Thomas O'Dea's Dilemmas of the Institutionalization of Religion to reveal how religion has both a positive and negative effect on people. Moving from the individual experience of the sacred to the more institutional religious experience, the book explores the many manifestations of religious life and offers a synthesis of folk religions, new religions, the New Age Movement, and the challenges posed by the secularization of contemporary life. This approach to studying the sociology of religion offers a more challenging and provocative opportunity for students compared to other texts on the market.
The second edition has been thoroughly revised and updated to integrate the latest developments in the field and to offer a more global approach to the study of religion. New chapters on women and religion and new religious movements have been added and discussions of Islam, indigenous religions and postmodernism have been significantly expanded.