Over the past several decades, postmodernist and postcolonial challenges to traditional theories and methods have revolutionized the social sciences. The discipline of religious studies, however, has been relatively slow to confront these developments, continuing to rely heavily on textualmethods and a framework that privileges belief over practice, doctrine over performance, text over context, and inner emotion over public ritual. Recently, however, developments in social theory have begun to transform the study of religion. In this book, Manuel Vasquez maps out the dynamics of thisparadigm shift, exploring systematically the epistemological and methodological challenges contemporary social theory poses for traditional approaches to religious studies. Offering a panoramic view of key debates on identity, culture, and society across the social sciences, he assesses the impactof these debates on the study of religion, offering specific examples of how they are shaping the study of particular religious traditions. He concludes by proposing a robust yet flexible materialist approach to the study of religion that will be capable of addressing the increasing complexity ofreligious life.