Bryan R. Wilson
Bryan Ronald Wilson, (25 June 1926, Leeds – 9 October 2004, Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire), was Reader Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Oxford and President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion 1971-75.
Wilson spent his undergraduate years at University College, Leicester, obtaining an External B.Sc. (Econ.) with First Class Honours from the University of London in 1952. He continued his studies under the supervision of Donald MacRae at the London School of Economics where, in 1955, he completed his doctoral thesis, which formed the basis for his book Sects and Society published in 1961. Wilson then took up a lecturing post at the University of Leeds; he held this post until 1962, when the University of Oxford awarded him an M.A. and appointed him as a Reader in Sociology. A year later he became a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and returned there after each of his many sojourns in Europe, America, Africa, Asia, or Australia as a researcher or Visiting Professor. In 1984, the University of Oxford conferred upon him a D.Litt. In 1992, the Catholic University of Leuven, Louvain, Belgium conferred upon him the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sociology of religion.
Work and legacy
Wilson was a founding member of the University Association for the Sociology of Religion. From 1971 to 1975, he was President of the CISR (now known as the International Society for the Sociology of Religion or SISR). At the 1991 conference he became the first scholar to receive an honorary presidency from the Society. He was European editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, sitting on the editorial board of the Annual Review of the Social Science of Religion, and sharing responsibility for the English-language papers of SISR issues of Social Compass.
Wilson has exercised a formative influence on the sociology of religion in Britain.
His 1959 An Analysis of Sect Development in the American Sociological Review and his book Sects and Society (Heinemann 1961) – a study of the Elim Churches, the Christadelphians, and Christian Science (based on his doctoral thesis at the London School of Economics) – may be regarded as representing the beginning of contemporary academic study of new religious movements, to which Wilson later contributed its influential The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism: Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society (Oxford University Press 1990). He was also a pioneer of studies of millennialism, many years before this field achieved its present visibility, in Magic and the Millennium (Heinemann 1973).
In honor of Bryan R. Wilson the book "Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson" was made by his friends and students, and published.
- Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1993, page number v. Online version
- Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1993, page number viii. Online version
- Times obituary
- "Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson"
- Wilson, Bryan R. "Religion as a community resource." Perspectives on Culture and Society" vol. 1 (1988): 81-100
- Wilson, Bryan R. "American influences on the development of religion." Perspectives on Culture and Society" vol. 1 (1988): 101-118
- Secularization, Rationalism, and Sectarianism: Essays in Honour of Bryan R. Wilson. Contributors: Eileen Barker — editor, James A. Beckford — editor, Karel Dobbelaere — editor. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of Publication: Oxford. Publication Year: 1993.
- Times obituary