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Religion as Opposition: A Gramscian Analysis

Dwight B. Billings
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 96, No. 1 (Jul., 1990), pp. 1-31
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780691
Page Count: 31
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Religion as Opposition: A Gramscian Analysis
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Abstract

Building on Antonio Gramsci's approach to the dynamics of hegemony and counterhegemony, this article develops guidelines for the historical analysis of conditions under which religion promotes either social quiescence or opposition. Gramsci stressed the importance of (1) leadership resources and (2) organizational autonomy for oppositional movements. Social-psychological studies of the processes of religious conversion and commitment bring to light the importance of social support for the plausibility of belief- a third, implicit element in Gramsci's thought. These three factors are examined in a comparison of oppositional movements of coal miners and textile workers in the American South after World War I, when religion proved to be a crucial factor in either blunting or heightening workers' insurgency. Leadership resources, organizational autonomy, and plausibility structures are linked to Gramsci's analyses of the roles of force and hegemony in the formation of social classes.

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