Durkheim's 'second program of research' above all refers to his project as developed in Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. This essay examines how it has in turn been developed and taken up nowadays in the work of Roy Rappaport and Jeffrey Alexander. Both of them are concerned with the centrality of ritual and the sacred as active, constitutive elements not just of religion but of all social life, not least modern social life. However, a key difference between them can be found in the issue of the internal dimension of ritual and of the individual's participation in public performance of this. Rappaport emphasizes some sort of general notion of acceptance, in an effort to open up things and get away from the particular epistemological as well as theological commitments of the idea of belief. Alexander still appears to work with the modernist epistemology and 'Protestant' theology of belief. His project of a new Durkheimian cultural sociology has nonetheless itself opened up all kinds of things, and is one of the most creative and dynamic research programs in sociology nowadays.
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