Comp Four: Social Theory
1. Contemporary social theorists approach culture and the relationship between culture and popular culture quite differently. These definitions span the range of social disciplines and philosophical perspectives. Imagine (and explain to us) where your understanding of culture and popular culture “fits” in this disciplinary and philosophical maze, describing in detail one cultural theory (and theorist) you consider especially important to practical theology. How do your own normative (theological) commitments as a practical theologian help you appreciate and critique this cultural perspective? What critical questions does this cultural perspective raise for practical theologians?
2. Christian Smith has become one of the preeminent sociologists of American religion in recent years. Describe the major features of his work, including his governing philosophical perspectives, and put his theoretical framework in relation to the cultural sociologist you have highlighted above.
3. One night at Charlie Brown’s, the Emergent Church cohort decides to invite Christian Smith, Pierre Bourdieu, and Tony Jones to lecture together on the spiritual formation of young adults in a postmodern context. What are the key questions that need to be addressed during this lecture? What are each of your distinctive contributions to the content/pedagogical method of the lecture? How do Smith and Bourdieu critique you, as a practical theologian, on the issue of young adult spiritual formation in a postmodern context – and how do you critique them?