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Religion and secularization

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Just how secular are contemporary industrial societies? ... beliefs and practices Social: belonging Cult of the individual' relative to sacred things' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Religion and secularization


1

Sociology of Industrial Societies
  • Religion and secularization

Week 2 HT08
2
Religion and secularization
  • Lecture plan
  • Religion classical sociological conceptions
  • Contemporary theorists industrialization ?
    secularization
  • Just how secular are contemporary industrial
    societies?
  • Some challenges to the secularization thesis
  • A golden age of religiosity?
  • The rise of new religious movements?
  • How to explain American exceptionalism?

Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
3
Religion classical sociological conceptions
  • What is religion? What is its function? Prognosis
    ?
  • Outward projection Delusion and
    distraction Religious beliefs will
  • of human qualities The opium of the people
    fall away with trans-
  • ition to communism
  • a unified system of Psychological meaning
    Eternal need for faith
  • beliefs and practices Social belonging Cult
    of the individual
  • relative to sacred things
  • Society worshipping itself
  • System of ideas and Protestant work ethic But
    rationalization and
  • beliefs internalized by crucial to
    industrialization bureaucratization
  • individuals secularizing forces

Karl Marx
Emile Durkheim
Max Weber
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
4
Contemporary theorists industrialization ?
secularization
  • Secularization thesis industrial development
    synonymous with religious decline
  • the process by which sectors of society and
    culture are removed from the domination of
    religious institutions and symbols (Berger 1967
    107)
  • a social condition manifest in
  • (a) the declining importance of religion
  • for the operation of non-religious roles
  • and institutions such as those of the state
  • and the economy
  • (b) a decline in the social standing of
  • religious roles and institutions and
  • (c) a decline in the extent to which
  • people engage in religious practices,
  • display beliefs of a religious kind, and
  • conduct other aspects of their lives in a
  • manner informed by such beliefs.
  • (Bruce 2002 3)
  • the process whereby religious thinking,
    practice and institutions lose social
    significance (Wilson 1966 14)

Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
5
Contemporary theorists industrialization ?
secularization
  • Industrialization as a secularizing force
  • Rationalization knowledge increasing founded on
    rational scientific principles
  • Functional differentiation functions once
    performed by churches now performed by
    specialized secular institutions
  • Societalization urbanization means decline of
    localism and community
  • Pluralism lack of religious monopoly compromises
    authority
  • Declining social significance of religion on
    three levels
  • Social structure
  • Culture
  • Individual behaviours
  • beliefs
  • See Wilson (1966) Berger (1967) Dobbelaere
    (2002) Norris and Inglehart (2004)

Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
6
Just how secular are contemporary industrial
societies?
  • Throughout Europe, generally high levels of
    belonging to religious denominations

Source World Values Survey
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
7
Just how secular are contemporary industrial
societies?
  • Throughout Europe, generally high levels of
    belonging to religious denominations
  • But also generally the case that few people
    attend church regularly
  • Main exceptions are strongly Roman Catholic
    countries
  • Otherwise, largely nominal belonging?

Source World Values Survey
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
8
Just how secular are contemporary industrial
societies?
  • Though low rates of formal religious
    participation, higher rates of private
    religiosity
  • and rates of belief in God higher still
  • A case of believing without belonging? (Davie
    2002)
  • Individual significance of religion, but social
    significance?

Source World Values Survey
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
9
Some challenges to the secularization thesis
  • A golden age of faith?
  • Secularization theorists mistaken about
    historically high levels of religiosity (Stark
    1999) (Gorski 2000)
  • Growth of new religious movements
  • Growing membership of non-Trinitarian churches
    (e.g. Christian Scientists, Mormons, Jehovahs
    Witnesses) in Britain from from 71,000 in 1900
    to 537,000 in 2000 (Brierley 1999)
  • But growth only one sixth the members lost to
    main Christian churches

Source (Bruce 2001)
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
10
Some challenges to the secularization thesis
  • American exceptionalism?
  • Religious participation and belief remain high in
    the USA
  • with no noticeable decline in decades Bishop
    (1999)
  • Despite substantial rationalization, functional
    differentiation, societalization and pluralism

Source World Values Survey
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
11
Some challenges to the secularization thesis
  • Religious economies model (Stark and Iannaccone
    1994) (Stark et al 1995)
  • Argues that strength of religion in US due to
    pluralism
  • Likewise, declining religion participation
  • in Europe due to supply-side not
  • demand-side factors
  • Higher levels of religious participation
  • linked to religious economies
  • Operating as a free market
  • rather than state regulated
  • With pluralistic and competitive
  • system of religious providers,
  • rather than religious monopoly

Source US Census Bureau
Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
12
Some challenges to the secularization thesis
  • Mixed evidence in relation to the religious
    economies model
  • Some researchers find positive effects of
    pluralism, others negative effects (Voas et al
    2002)
  • Problems with correlations being at least partly
    statistical artefacts of random variation in the
    size of religious groups across the areas studies
  • On a more theoretical level
  • if people are picking and choosing from a range
    of competing religious firms, is this the same as
    religion having a social significance?

Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
13
Some challenges to the secularization thesis
  • Statistical artefact problem arises because
    direction ( or -) of relationship depends on
    whether variability in size is greatest for
    larger (-) or smaller () dominations
  • Source Voas et al (2002)

Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
14
Religion and secularization
  • Secularization theorists argue that the
    development of industrial societies itself brings
    about a declining social significance of religion
  • Suggestion that in (Protestant) Europe, declining
    social significance of organized religion
  • but religion surprisingly widespread in terms of
    individual beliefs
  • Other challenges to secularization thesis from
    historic and recent trends in religious
    participation
  • and from the religious economies model
    although empirical evidence is mixed to say the
    least
  • Perhaps comes down to whether evidence
    challenging the secularization thesis really does
    indicate a continuing social significance?

Religion and secularization
Week 2 HT08
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