Doing Research in Sociology in the Princeton University Library

Journals on a wide range of sociological topics in religion are included in the ATLA Religion Database, including the full text of  the entire runs of a core collection of more than fifty significant scholarly periodicals in the field of religion, most of which go back to 1949.  ATLA journals represent a wide selection of Christian traditions (including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal), Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism, and other religious traditions. Ethical issues are also included.  Various databases covering specific religious traditions will be found on the Library HomePage under Databases and Reference Tools.  Enter the keyword RELIGION to examine a list of such sources.

Another valuable reseource for the study of the sociology of religion is the library of the Princeton Theological Seminary, located here in Princeton on the southern edge of the University campus.  Strong holdings there in Liberation Theology will be of special interest for Latin American topics.  Although Princeton Theological Seminary is an independent institution not part of Princeton University, students and faculty of the University have borrowing privileges at the Seminary.  Be sure to go during weekday business hours to arrange for the borrowing card necessary there.

Useful sources for numerical data for religion are the World Christian Database and the World Religion Database . These hve been created are are maintained by a Chrsitian seminary, but provides balancedand remarkably accurate coverage for the entire world and all religions and ethnicities.  This group has done a great deal of field work to provide these data, which seem very solid. This is added to fill out missing data in offical counts from offical country sources, from figures reported by various faith bodies, and from other independent surveys and reports.

When dealing with numerical data for religion, it is important to keep in mind the following points.  First of all, the national census of most countries is a foundation for data to measure many aspects of life within that country.  However, since the 1930s when such data was used to identify particular religious groups for persecution, many countries including the U.S. have not included questions on religion in the national census.  An interesting modern twist, interpreted by some observers as a protest against being asked such a question by the government, is that some 20 percent of New Zealanders responded "Jedi Knight" to the religion question of their year 2000 national  census. In the counts for the 2001 British census, enough British citizens  responded "Jedi Knight" that the fictional religion of characters in the Star Wars science fiction films had to be  given its own census code, 896, although the British Census office would not  acknowledge "Jedi" as an "official  religion".   All of this goes to demonstrate that religion in census reports is not  necessarily reported at all, or reliable when reported. Morever, counts from various established religious bodies often overlap.  For these reasons care must taken in using figures on religion.  All of the sources listed below count a wide range of faith groups, even though they may be compiled by a particular church or religious group.

With all of that in mind, in addition to the the World Christian Database and the World Religion Database, some  important paper sources are: