Structures are everywhere. And while part of our job as scholars of religion is to deconstruct the structures around us so as to better understand them. Another part of our job is coming to notice the structures that are functionally invisible—the ones that escape our view because they area so engrained in our lives. Philosopher Michel DeCerteau called this “the practice of everyday life.”

In this week’s chapter, Craig Martin provides some tools for understanding the ultimate tool, “structure” (see Peter Berger’s remarks on the top of page 66).

For our first class, I would like you to choose one of the block quotations included in the day’s reading. Give yourself 350 words to unpack that quote. In so doing I want you to try and (1) make a connection to two different things that we have read and (2) use an example/illustration of your choosing. This exercise will help you concretize the abstract theory that is bringing us to the bring of noticing the otherwise invisible.

For our second class, please do the following:

  • list and define the elements of societies (p.72)
  • define naturalization
  • define domination
  • define social reproduction
  • know how to distinguish between description and prescription

I also would like you to give thought to the Anthony Giddens discussion about how social structures are both constraining and enabling. With this idea, Martin suggests that we all submit to domination. In class we’ll discuss what this means and how education, as Durkheim pointed out, is a rather big example of this.

Pink Floyd’s 1979 “Another Brick in the Wall-Part 2” is a classic rock meditation on discussion. If you struggle to find an example of a structure, you’re welcome to use this one in your thinking. Lyrics to the video may be found here as well as on the video itself.