Religion Past and Present

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

Religion Past and Present (RPP) Online is the online version of the updated English translation of the 4th edition of the definitive encyclopedia of religion worldwide: the peerless Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG). This great resource, now at last available in English and Online, Religion Past and Present Online continues the tradition of deep knowledge and authority relied upon by generations of scholars in religious, theological, and biblical studies. Including the latest developments in research, Religion Past and Present Online encompasses a vast range of subjects connected with religion.

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Social Psychology

(1,678 words)

Author(s): Fraas, Hans-Jürgen | Huxel, Kirsten | Santer, Hellmut
[German Version] I. The Concept Social psychology studies the modes of social experience and behavior and the interaction processes both of individuals and between individuals and social systems (Community and the individual) of varying complexity (microsystems like partnerships, families [Family], groups; mesosystems like organizations and institutions; macrosystems like social, political and cultural entities), as well as the relationship of social systems to each other. The basic issues, which are…

Social Question

(1,023 words)

Author(s): Jähnichen, Traugott
[German Version] I. Definition The term social question is linked indissolubly to the social history of the 19th century; it denotes the diagnoses of the crises produced by the emergence of industrial society and the strategies for dealing with it. By the 1840s, soziale Frage was already in use in Germany as a translation of the French question sociale; against the background of dramatically rising mass poverty and the first food riots, it summarized various social transformations that were experienced as extreme crises. In particular, we can identify …

Social Reform

(347 words)

Author(s): Bayer, Stefan
[German Version] By social reform, we mean the reform of the existing social security system in general. The need for such a reform in the Federal Republic of Germany is clear for several reasons. Expenditures related to social policy, more than half of all government spending, consumes the lion’s share of all public spending. In the year 2000, the statutory social security system alone cost 416 billion euros. At present the total “social budget,” which includes government spending ¶ occasioned by distributional policy (such as social welfare and unemployment assistance), …

Social Research, Empirical

(725 words)

Author(s): Feige, Andreas
[German Version] Empirical social research is a significant requirement for the social sciences (sociology, psychology, ethnology, economics) to the extent that they consider themselves factual sciences. It comprises the development and application of methods and techniques for discovering theoretically relevant information about social issues and situations, confirmed by explicitly systematic study. This information includes (a) objective data (e.g. legal structures, institutional structures, str…

Social Safety Net

(605 words)

Author(s): Cansier, Dieter
[German Version] In Germany, anyone who is unemployed, disabled, sick, or care-dependent is supported by a system of various transfer payments. Until 2004 social welfare provided a basic level of security for all the needy, both the disabled and those able to work. The long-term unemployed came under unemployment assistance. Social welfare and unemployment assistance were changed by the social legislation of 2004. Now a distinction is made between the disabled and those able to work. Since Jan 1, …

Social Sciences

(595 words)

Author(s): Schäfers, Bernhard
[German Version] I. Like many other terms in the language of politics and society, the term social sciences emerged in France in the late 18th century ( sciences sociales) and spread in the late 19th century. It is a collective term for the academic disciplines devoted to human sociality in its various forms and senses. The German term Gesellschaftswissenschaften, often treated as synonymous, is not quite accurate, since strictly speaking only sociology, politology (Political science), and economics relate unambiguously to society ( Gesellschaft). All other disciplines called…

Social Science Statistics

(550 words)

Author(s): Kretzschmar, Gerald
[German Version] The notion of social stratification, which implies a sequence of superimposed ¶ social strata (or layers), is inspired from the model of geological stratification and originated in American structural functionalism. Various efforts to analyze social inequalities in modern societies lie at the root of the concept of social stratification, for which there is no generally accepted definition. While “social stratum” serves as a generic term for caste, estate, or class, it is also used as a synonym for “social class,” or as a concept that is in fact not to be confused wit…

Social Security

(700 words)

Author(s): Cansier, Dieter
[German Version] Social security has a long history in Germany. The golden age of social legislation was the end of the Bismarck era. The year 1883 saw the introduction of statutory health insurance, followed by accident insurance in 1884 and disability and old age insurance in 1889 (Security, Social). Social changes associated with the breakdown of the traditional security community of peasants and artisans led to the emergence of a workforce dependent on wages (Pay and reward: II), which ceased …

Social State

(1,223 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph
[German Version] I. Term and History The concept of the social state needs to be distinguished from that of the welfare state. The former emphasizes the responsibility and cooperation of all for socially just structures within a society; the latter tends to suggest a “nanny state” that guarantees social security (Security, Social) and is concerned primarily with the redistribution of social resources. The social state attaches great importance to subsidiarity, i.e. helping people to help themselves th…

Social Welfare

(374 words)

Author(s): Muckel, Stefan
[German Version] is secondary, non-contributory public assistance to needy individuals. The oldest form of social benefit (Social safety net, Social security), it developed out of poor relief (Poor, Care of the), with roots going back to the public law codes and poor laws of the 15th and 16th centuries. Today the function of welfare is no longer just to guarantee the minimum necessities of life. It is intended to put the recipient in a position to live a life commensurate with human dignity. In Ge…

Social Work

(1,010 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph
[German Version] I. Definition Since the early 20th century, social work has been defined as “organized assistance on the part of the state and municipalities, public corporations, and private organizations . . . provided to individuals, families, and groups to avert internal and external hardship and meet their essential needs” (Heyne, 917). Related concepts are relief and social welfare. The term Sozialarbeit was accepted only gradually in Germany, obviously influenced by the Anglo-American term social work and the notion of social work as a distinct profession. II. Organiz…

Societas Liturgica

(234 words)

Author(s): Pahl, Irmgard
[German Version] The Societas Liturgica was founded in Driebergen, the Netherlands, in 1967 on the initiative of Wiebe Vos. Its is an international ecumenical association for liturgical research and renewal, with the purpose of promoting ecumenical dialogue on liturgical questions and serving the unity of the church (Liturgical studies: II, 3). Vos was already pursuing the same goal in 1962 when he founded the quarterly Studia Liturgica, which became the official organ of the Societas Liturgica in 1987. As of Jul 1, 2003, the society had 455 members on all con…

Société des Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP)

(214 words)

Author(s): Legrand, Hervé
[German Version] Founded in 1663 (a mission seminary since 1660) on the initiative of lay members of the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, the society was supported by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. Its Instructions name three purposes: to reduce the dominance of Spanish and Portuguese missionary patronage in Asia, to adapt to local customs and cultures, and to create an indigenous clergy. As vicars apostolic, subject directly to Rome, its bishops ordained indigenous secular priests. The society, which served as a model for some ten similar societies, has…

Societies, Benevolent

(364 words)

Author(s): Gohde, Jürgen
[German Version] are combinations of sponsoring organizations or institutions that represent the common professional interests and individual interests of those concerned to public policy makers (Politics) and society as a whole; they also facilitate self-organization. They are dedicated to the common good. Today there are some 3,600 such societies in Germany. As a rule, the criterion for membership is engagement in not-for-profit activities. Societies are usually organized (Voluntary associations…

Societies of Apostolic Life

(155 words)

Author(s): Kalb, Herbert
[German Version] The societies of apostolic life found today in both the Eastern Uniate churches and the Latin Church came into being in the late 16th century. To avoid the ecclesiastical and social isolation imposed at that time by the legal corset of monastic life, quasi-monastic communities were formed that aimed at a more flexible community structure. The unfortunate definition in CIC c. 731 notwithstanding, these societates are societies of common life without monastic vows, but – depending on their individual constitutions – they make commitments of othe…

Societies, Theological

(534 words)

Author(s): WilhelmGraf, Friedrich
[German Version] The roots of scientific societies go back to the learned societies of the Enlightenment. In the secular form of private associations, scholars began joining in specialized societies in the post-Napoleonic period (Vormärz); they wished to articulate their interests, influence public opinion, and organize discussions of central questions in their fields. Communication within these societies took the form of congresses, circular letters, and specialized journals. Historians of cultur…


(6,607 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Kippenberg, Hans G. | Thiel, Winfried | Wehr, Lothar | Münch, Richard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology The word society ( societas, société) has changed from a term denoting particular forms and modes of human coexistence to a term (in both sg. and pl.) denoting the totality of human coexistence; it has thus become the basic term of the theoretical sciences that deal with human coexistence. The German equivalent, Gesellschaft (from OHG sal, “room,” and selida, “dwelling place”), suggests ties that arise from sharing the same room (cf. Geselle, “apprentice,” etymologically “someone ¶ sharing accommodations” with a master) or belonging to the sa…

Society for Ethical Culture

(166 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] was founded in New York in 1876 by F. Adler. Raised a Reform Jew (Reform Judaism), Adler came to reject traditional notions of monotheism, though he continued to look at the Hebrew Scriptures and the person of Jesus for inspiration. Adhering to the slogan, “deed not creed,” Adler encouraged the efforts of individuals rather than formal institutions and ritualized traditions. The Society for Ethical Culture with its regular Sunday services and Adler’s humanistic addresses became th…

Society for the Propagation of the Faith (SPF)

(335 words)

Author(s): Collet, Giancarlo
[German Version] The Society was formed from what had been four separate church organizations officially declared pontifical institutions in 1922 and 1980; its purpose is to promote the worldwide mission of the Catholic Church (Mission: II, 3). It structure is defined in its 1980 statutes. The Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in Lyon in 1822 by M.-P. Jaricot and a group of laity; it was introduced into Germany as the Franziskus-Xaverius or Ludwig-Missionsverein (know…

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG)

(277 words)

Author(s): Carter, Grayson
[German Version] The SPG was established under royal charter by T. Bray in 1701 to supply the “want of learned and orthodox ministers” in the plantations, colonies, and “factories beyond the seas.” The rapidly expanding British Empire presented both challenges and opportunities for the Church of England. The SPG set out to “settle the State of Religion” for the colo­nists before undertaking “the conversion of the Natives.” During the 18th century the SPG’s efforts focused on the American colonies,…
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