The Sacred in Current Social Sciences Research

Nicola Righetti


The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of existing scientific research and theoretical studies concerning the category of the sacred. The essay takes an interdisciplinary point of view and covers the literature published in the years between 2000 and 2013.This review is theoretically oriented by an approach to the sacred that conceives it as an immanent character of social life that is not constrained by the boundaries of religious institutions. In the first part of the paper, we present this perspective through both classic and recent theories. In the second and third section, we discuss the most recent sociological, anthropological, psychological, neuroscientific, and evolutionary research concerning the sacred, organizing the information into two classic key issues: the sacred as a social and a moral cohesive force, and the sacred in its relation to power. We close the paper by providing some hints for future research in this area.


sacred; social research; review

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ISSN 2239-8589 | Managing Editor: Debora Viviani | Editor in Chief: Paola Di Nicola