Sacred Matter and Construction of Meaning: Religion as a Collective Semantic System

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Department of Political Sociology, Shahid Bahonar University, Kerman, Iran


The focus of this article is on exploring what religious meaning (not the meaning of religion) is and how it functions in constructing individual and collective behaviors and actions that have been carried out by adopting social constructivism as a theoretical-methodical approach. From the point of view of social constructivism, religion is a sacred canopy (according to Berger), whose remarkable power in giving meaning to all aspects of human life in individual and collective forms, has made it one of the most immortal and effective semantic systems in human life. Thus, even in the age of post-secularism, the nature of religion as a semantic resource has been consistent, albeit with different representations, but steadily with ups and downs. Constructivists believe that religion is a purely collective and interactive semantic system that functions as the dominant semantic system that makes the world and its phenomena comprehensible, purposeful, and justifiable for believers, and even when this dominant system, individually and collectively, is in trouble, a temporary meaning derived from it acts as a provisional and sometimes permanent alternative, constructing and directing multiple identities, behaviors, and actions.


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