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Maffesoli theorizes that, although traditional, national religions may be in decline, people in large urban areas increasingly live in the ‘time of the tribes’, and that the continual creation of neo-tribes demonstrates that there remains a very strong human need and a quest for close social contact and interaction that can be seen in religious terms.
Studies of individual religious practice – everyday ‘lived religion’ – show that, in the pursuit of generic definitions and theories of religion, sociology may have largely ignored the creative blending of ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ elements by individuals trying to make sense of their place in the world.
Durkheim studied the phenomenon of religion in some detail, especially within small-scale societies.
Religion provides an ordering system for societies, centred on a fundamental distinction between the sacred and the profane.
The first type emerged as participants of the counterculture, somewhat disillusioned with its approach and objectives, began to turn to religions such as Hare Krishna (see INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY …), the Divine Light Mission, the Unification Church (see MOON, SUN MYUNG), and the Children of God, which shunned the world and stressed the importance of the expressive, experiential approach to religious truth over against reason and reflection.