Original Research

Religion, theology and the social sciences in a society in transition

Etienne de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 60, No 1/2 | a522 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v60i1/2.522 | © 2004 Etienne de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 October 2004 | Published: 20 October 2004

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Etienne de Villiers, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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The societal changes introduced with the advent of the new political dispensation in South Africa in 1994 brought with them serious consequences for the different religions and for the academic disciplines devoted to the study of religion. This includes disciplines such as theology and religious studies, as well as those social sciences with an academic interest in religion as influential societal factor. The second part of the article presents a brief survey of the impact of these societal changes on religion, particularly the Christian religion, and the academic disciplines of theology, religious studies and the social sciences. An outline of the position and role of religion and the academic disciplines of theology, religious studies and the social sciences in the apartheid society from which South Africa is evolving, is used as point of departure in the first part of the article. The third part of the article ventures beyond mere description of the position and role of religion and the different academic disciplines involved with the study of religion. It aims to make out a case that in the New South Africa religion and academic disciplines exclusively devoted to the study of religion, such as theology, need the social sciences.


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