Functionalism or Fallacy: Re-locating Hans Mol’s Identity Theory

Adam J. Powell


In this paper, the identity theory of religion outline by sociologist Hans Mol in the 1970s is introduced and located among the various competing theories of the mid-20th century. Using such comparisons, particularly with enigmatic sociological figures, it is argued that the original consensus that Mol represented yet another neo-functionalist theory of religion is fallacious. Instead, it is suggested that his theoretical framework, whilst ambitious and broad, is something other than functionalism and avoids easy categorisation when viewed from a 21st-century perspective on the history of ideas.


sociology of religion; Hans Mol; identity

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