S.L. conference will focus on LDS sociology

Sessions will include topics from gender issues to politics
Deseret News, Oct. 31, 2002
By Carrie A. Moore, Deseret News religion editor

Examining the lifestyle, culture and practices that characterize members of

Using both quantitative and qualitative research, sociologists with some tie to the LDS Church have generated a large body of work detailing their findings about Latter-day Saints. This weekend, many of them will gather in Salt Lake City as a subset of the annual conference of The Society for Scientific Study of Religion.

The Mormon Social Science Association (MSSA) will host several sessions at the conference, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Salt Lake Hilton. Hundreds of sociologists will gather to discuss how religion intersects with politics, economics, personal identity, violence, demographics and a host of social issues.

LDS topics include the church’s response to societal change in women’s roles, gender issues within the church, developments in LDS political theology, personal grooming as a measure of faithfulness in LDS culture, church participation in the debate over gay marriage, institutional responses to gays and 21st century attitudes on polygamy. One session will explore “Diversity in the Mormon Homeland: Minority Religions in Utah.”

Another session of special interest to LDS social scientists will focus on the work of Armand Mauss, a Latter-day Saint scholar who has spent the bulk of his career at Washington State University examining the church and its members.

As a founding member of the MSSA, which originated in the late 1970s as The Society for the Sociological Study of Mormon Life, Mauss has been at the center of sociological studies on Latter-day Saints. As a member of the faith, he is keenly aware of the public relations work done by the church to cultivate its image during the past few decades, and remembers during his graduate studies at Berkeley in the 1960s how the faith was considered by many scholars to be a “cult.”

At that time, he noted, there was hardly anything written about Latter-day Saints by scholars, and what did exist “tended to have a ‘gee-whiz, ain’t they quaint’ kind of tone,” he said. Over time, “the term ‘cult’ became the handy label” jQuery(document).ready(function( $) { $.post( 'https://www.religionnewsblog.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php', {action: 'mts_view_count', id: '1092'}); });

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