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Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.

"Discuss the concept of religious belief social scientific perspectives addressing issues of societal change."

Does this sentence make sense in the native speaker's eyes? I believe it needs to have "in" between belief and social, but what do you think? I considered the possibility of the omitted that, like "the concept of religious belief (that) social scientific....," but I don't think it makes sense even in this way.

And I interpreted this as that I need to explain 'religious belief' in different social science perspectives that address issues of social change. For example, I need to explain the concept of religious belief with classic sociological theories.

Do you think it sounds plausible?? Thank you so much for your time and help. I really appreciate it.

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    It doesn't make sense to this native speaker. I don't think your suggestion of adding "in" is enough to salvage it. I feel as though there are three separate concepts just strung together, and it's not at all clear what the relationship is supposed to be. – user888379 Jul 25 '20 at 15:57
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    It's academic style in its worst noun-compounding avatar, but it's not ungrammatical. I'd paraphrase it as Discuss social scientific perspectives on religious beliefs, addressing issues of societal change. The three noun phrases are compounded clumsily, but grammatically; if it were spoken aloud, it would pass unmentioned because it would be clearly intoned and stressed. – John Lawler Jul 25 '20 at 16:04
  • Not exact synonyms, according to Mark Nichol. But likening a usage that's not your choice to a passing on a virus is what I was complaining about. Which you're trying to dodge. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 25 '20 at 18:59
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    Short-tempered or not, the professor ought to be asked for a clarification; the question is not answerable as it stands. Although the conventions of this site are such that you probably won't get a formal answer, the comments posted so far should be enough to reassure you that you are not the only person who is likely to have difficulties making sense of this question. Chances are that your classmates are troubled by it as well, and that they too will find it helpful if the question is reformulated. It is quite possible that the whole problem is due to a typo. – jsw29 Jul 25 '20 at 19:14
  • My suggestion as another native speaker, is that the word 'from' has been missed; that is, the intention might have been "Discuss the concept of religious belief from social scientific perspectives, addressing . . . " – peterG Jul 25 '20 at 20:32
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In a comment John Lawler wrote:

It's academic style in its worst noun-compounding avatar, but it's not ungrammatical. I'd paraphrase it as Discuss social scientific perspectives on religious beliefs, addressing issues of societal change. The three noun phrases are compounded clumsily, but grammatically; if it were spoken aloud, it would pass unmentioned because it would be clearly intoned and stressed.

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  • This is a possible interpretation of the sentence, but it is not the only one. 'Religious belief social scientific perspectives' could have meant 'social scientific perspectives on religious beliefs', but it also could have meant 'social scientific perspectives informed by religious beliefs'. 'Social scientific perspectives' could have meant 'scientific perspectives held in the society' or 'the perspectives of the social sciences'. 'Addressing' could be qualifying 'perspectives' or it could be qualifying 'discuss'. – jsw29 Jul 25 '20 at 19:45

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