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The Concepts Project

of the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology (ACTS)

Dennis Hiebert and Val Hiebert
Providence College

Contributions by Cameron McKenzie
Providence College (Canada)

Last Updated: August, 2008

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Introduction

            The Concepts Project is an attempt to identify parallels between concepts developed by the academic discipline of sociology, and concepts derived from, or passages found in, the biblical text.  The purpose of this project is to foster a mutually enlightening conversation between sociology and the Christian scriptures, a dialogue that can be one aspect of the integration of sociology and Christian faith.  Exploring the parallels between the insights of sociology into the contemporary human condition and experience on one hand, and the teaching of the biblical text regarding human nature and God’s intent for human relationships on the other, has much heuristic merit.

             The following lists of approximately 300 sociological concepts are arranged according to the standard topics or sub-disciplines of sociology, as they would be presented in a typical “Introduction to Sociology” textbook and/or course.  Each concept is defined briefly, before identifications of biblical narratives that illustrate the sociological concept, or biblical teachings that elaborate it, are presented.  Where there are multiple examples for a single concept, they appear in biblical order.  A table of contents, an index of sociological concepts, and an index of biblical examples are provided.

 Call for Contributions

            This project is ongoing and open-ended.  The concepts are as yet unevenly exemplified, and the examples are unevenly developed.  Some concepts do not yet have biblical parallels or examples, more biblical examples of the sociological concepts already identified could be generated, and additional sociological concepts with biblical examples could be supplied.  As the intent of the project is to develop a resource as rich in quantity and quality as possible, readers are invited to submit further sociological concepts or biblical examples that would enrich the collection.  Anyone may contribute. 

            Please send additional examples and concepts to the project managers at dennis.hiebert@prov.ca or val.hiebert@prov.ca, who will edit and update the list periodically.  Submissions should 1) identify the sociological concept, 2) identify an exemplary biblical passage, and 3) discuss the parallel to the sociological concept in a few sentences.  Submissions on parallels of sociological concepts not yet appearing on the following lists are also welcome, in which case the concept should also be defined briefly.  All submissions become the copyright of the project.  Any observations or inquiries about the project are also welcome.

 Outline

            The seventeen topics, grouped in five units, are as follows:

             A.  Foundational Concepts

                         1.  Basic Terms

             B.  Society and the Individual

                         2.  Culture

                         3.  Human Social Interaction  (Social Psychology)

                         4.  Socialization

                         5.  Social Control and Deviance

             C.  Social Differentiation

                         6.  Social Stratification

                         7.  Race and Ethnic Relations

                         8.  Inequalities of Gender and Age

             D.  Social Institutions

                         9.  Families

                        10. Religion

                        11. Education

                        12. State and Polity

                        13. Political Economy and Work

             E.  Social Organization and Change

                        14. Groups and Formal Organizations

                        15. Demography and Urbanization

                        16. Collective Behaviour and Social Movements

                        17. Social Change

 Downloadable Documents (Adobe Acrobat required):

  1. Table of contents

  2. Concepts Document

  3. Index

  4. Scripture Index

 Acknowledgements

            This project was conceived at the 1994 ACTS meetings at Geneva College, when Dennis Hiebert agreed to give leadership to it.  Ideas for entries were collected from many sources over the next ten years, primarily from students in sociology courses Dennis taught at Providence College.  In 2004, Val Hiebert joined the project and began writing up the ideas in standardized format and indexing them.  Gratitude is extended for both the creative contributions of Providence students, and the enthusiastic yet patient support of ACTS members over those years.  Beginning in 2005, Biblical scholars such as Michael Gilmour of Providence College were consulted to generate ideas for many of the concepts that were more difficult to pair with the biblical text.  The Biblical scholar who became the primary contributor and remains the primary consultant is Cameron McKenzie, without whose input the collection would be significantly less in quality and quantity.  Scott Monsma of Northwestern College has posted the project on the ACTS website.  In all, many unnamed people contributed to what is now before you, and hopefully there will yet be many more.