History of ideas of practical theology is traditionally closely linked to the problematic history of the sociology of religion. This interdisciplinary proximity found its institutional expression in the 1950s and 60s with the setting up of the »Institut für Christliche Gesellschaftslehre« in Tübingen and the Hochschule Berlin-West's »Institut für Religionssoziologie«. The essay reconstructs what motivated the two organisations' establishment. The main motives are then linked to Paul Drews' programme of empirical theology and applied to the theological challenges currently facing the research of modern cultures of religion. In its synopsis, the essay puts the case for a stronger reception of cultural and social-anthropological topics and tradition in the discourse led by practical theology.