Star Wars and Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religious Life


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In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim studied Aboriginal Australian religion in an effort to better understand humanity as a whole. In doing so, he introduced a variety of concepts and terms that in today's classroom could be considered rather confusing to students. This resource attempts to make tangible the implications behind the esoteric Aboriginal Australian terminology used by Durkheim by relating it to Star Wars. This will then allow students to examine the connections between religion/religious thought and modern cultural phenomena by engaging with primary source material.


Resource Type(s):
Jacob Marshall Hardy, Texas A&M University 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Teaching and Learning in Sociology 
Class Level:
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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This resource has been designed to make some of the more unique terminology utilized by Durkheim more approachable to students in today's classroom. If students are finding certain concepts or terms difficult to conceptualize or relate to, an application to a popular phenomenon such as Star Wars can be helpful....

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
To make Durkheim’s study of religion via Aboriginal Australians more approachable to students via the usage of Star Wars.
Assessment 1:
Students will be able to relate relevant Durkheimian religious vocabulary to relevant objects in the Star Wars Universe. Ex. Lightsaber as churinga. Example objective assessment vocabulary questions are included in the final slides of the resource.
Goal 2:
To help students view the sociology of religion as not just a study of traditional religious practices but also of society and culture as a whole.
Assessment 2:
Students will be able to identify Durkheimian concepts from the text by relating them to Star Wars, and then applying them in a broad manner to society via essay questions. Example essay questions are included in the final slides of the resource.
Goal 3:
To encourage creative and critical thinking in students while fostering their own inquisitive natures and explorations.
Assessment 3:
Students will be able to discuss broad and nontraditional applications of Durkheim’s sociology of religion. Open ended application to a variety of topics should be possible, including both fictional and nonfictional examples.

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Durkheim - Star Wars - Trails.pptx