The central problems of the secularisation debate therefore are:
Conclusions about secularisation will also be influenced by where sociologists are looking at it. Lots of the evidence in the UK and Western Europe might be seen as supporting the secularisation thesis (depending on how we define secularisation) but the evidence is much less clear in the USA and religion can be seen as dominating society in some parts of the world. It should also be remembered that certain groups within society are more religious than others (e.g. minority ethnic groups in the UK), which can raise further questions about the extent of secularisation in the UK.
April 16, 2012 The Secularisation Thesis
Sociology Secularisation Produce an essay identifying the different sociological approaches to secularisation with reference to Marxism, Webber and Durkheim. In my assignment I will be looking at secularisation and the different sociological explanations and theories, from sociologist such as Marx, Webber, Durkheim and Wilson. I will then look at how these different views compare and differ with one another. It can be seen that an on-going debate by sociologists is the disagreement whether religion encourages or inhibits social change. Most sociologists agree that as society changes and evolves so will changes to religion. However, many have claimed that this change will lead to the disappearance of religion altogether. It has been thought since the early 19th century that industrialization and the growth of scientific knowledge, would lead to the decline of religion, known as secularisation. Emile Durkheim a functionalist did not see religion as hopeless. He looked more at its function within society. He saw religion as maintaining social cohesion, a main part of society where religion brought people together. However, he anticipated that religion was on the decline of social significance. This is because in an industrial society where there was a highly specialised division of labour, religion would lose a part of its power for integrating society (Holborn, 2009). This is where Durkheim believed the Education System would replace the religions part of social solidarity, instead of religious rituals.
Conclusions Thus, Glock suggests that the secularisation thesis cannot be tested because of the failure to conceptualize religion or religiousness.
The ideological conflict between the superpowers reflected the essence of their struggle to present their respective governing principles for society and politics as facilitating the best social order of which man is capable. The global nature of their rivalry required powerful universal symbols, for which religion was by far the best provider – a factor that significantly advantaged the United States. The role of religion in the Cold War has but recently received serious scholarly attention. () The reason for its neglect can partly be accounted for by the influence of the 'secularisation thesis'. In his seminal 1969 book, , sociologist Peter Berger described the supposed decline in the importance of religion as 'a global phenomenon of modern societies' that becomes 'world-wide in the course of westernisation and modernisation'. () Following substantial empirical work, the 'secularisation thesis' has been rejected by sociologists. Berger himself now states not only that his thesis was 'essentially mistaken', but that religion may in fact be more important than ever. ()The strongest evidence for secularisation in the UK comes from church attendance statistics. According to the 1851 Census approximately 40% of the population attended church. By 2005 this had dropped to 6.3% according to the 2006 English Church Census. Attendance at religious ceremonies such as baptisms, communion and confirmation have also dramatically fallen. Wilson, like the New Right, sees the decline in church marriages (down to 33%% in 2005), the rising divorce rate and the increase in cohabitation and number of children born outside marriage as evidence that religion and its moral value system exerts little influence today.Bruce identifies two counter-trends that seem to go against secularisation theory because they are associated with higher than average levels of religious participation. Cultural defence is where religion provides a focal point for the defence of national, ethnic, local or group identity in a struggle against an external force such as a hostile foreign power. Examples include the popularity of Catholicism in Poland before the fall of communism and the resurgence of Islam before the revolution in Iran in 1979. Cultural transition is where religion provides support and a sense of community for ethnic groups such as migrants to a different country and culture. Herberg describes this in his study of religion and immigration to the USA and religion could be said to have performed similar functions for Irish, African Caribbean, Muslim, Hindu and other migrants to the UK.This article examines the extent of church growth in Britain in recent decades, in response to the articulation of the secularisation thesis with regard to Christian congregations in recent British history. It shows that alongside the widely recognised phenomenon of church decline, there has been significant church growth—notably in London, amongst black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities and amongst new churches. This runs counter to many discussions of religion in recent British history, which assume overwhelming and ongoing church decline and which assume any church growth is peripheral. The article recognises evidence of significant church decline—but critiques the view that this should be the sole or the dominant narrative. The findings of the article throw up a range of questions that offer significant new avenues for further research.A number of books have been published in the past ten years on the conviction widely shared by scholars across a variety of disciplines that we are currently experiencing a worldwide religious resurgence. In this chapter I examine more closely the very notion of a ‘religious resurgence’ and its theoretical implications for International Relations (IR). There are two points I wish to make. First, one way to understand the religious resurgence is in terms of a theoretical shift: as IR scholars move beyond the secularisation thesis, religion becomes more obvious as a variable in global politics. Second, the return of religion qua theoretical shift requires rethinking the fundamental idea of religion, as making sense of the religious resurgence requires a critical concept of religion.Secularisation Theory is the theory in sociology that as society advances in modernity, religion retreats and becomes increasingly hollow. The theory holds that intellectual and scientific developments have undermined the spiritual, supernatural, superstitious and paranormal ideas on which religion relies for its legitimacy, and, the differentiation of modern life into different compartments (i.e. work, politics, society, education and knowledge, home-time, entertainment) have relegated religion to merely of life, rather than an all-pervading narrative. As this continues, religion becomes more and more shallow, surviving for a while on empty until loss of active membership forces it into obscurity - although most theorists only hold this happens for . ⇒ See: