3. Secularisation

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  • Secularisation
    • Secularisation in britain
      • BRUCE: religiosity in Britain is in a long-term decline
      • Fewer marriages in church
      • Decline in marriage rates
      • Increase in divorce rates
      • Decline in number of christenings/ baptisms...
      • The influence of religion on social institutions has also declined
      • More people claim to hold Christian beliefs than actually belong to or got to church
      • Greater religious diversity
    • Arguments for secularisation theory
      • WEBER: rationalisation
        • People's understanding of the world became disenchanted by the introduction of science to explain natural laws
        • People began to use science to try and explain religion
        • HAMILTON: religion has been its own 'gravedigger' because people no longer need religion and use science and rational thought guide their lives and actions
        • BRUCE
          • Agrees with Weber's rationalisation  and sdays that a technological worldview has replaced a religious one. We now look to science and technology to explain worldly events
          • Disappearance thesis
        • Disappearance thesis
      • Structural differentiation
        • PARSONS
          • A process of specialisation that occurs with the development of industrial society.
          • Differentiation leads to the disengagement of religion where its functions are transferred to other institutions and it becomes disconnected from society
          • Differentiation thesis
        • BRUCE
          • Religion has become separated from wider society and lost many of its functions
          • Religion has become privatised- confined to the private sphere of the home and family
          • Disappearance thesis
      • Social and cultural diversity
        • WILSON
          • These small communities these broke down as industrialisation caused people to disperse and become more diverse
          • Religion was strong in pre-industrial society as it was based in small tightly-knit communities
          • Disappearance thesis
      • BERGER: Religious diversity
        • Protestantism brought about more religious diversity which has led to secularisation
        • Catholicism claimed to have a monopoly on the truth meaning everyone was under a sacred canopy. Protestantism destroyed this consensus
        • Protestantism brought about a 'plurality of life worlds' where perceptions of the truth vary
        • Disappearance thesis
      • EVAL: BRUCE identifies 2 counter-trends to the secularisation theory
        • Cultural defence and transition
          • 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
          • Cultural transition is where religion provides support and a sense of community for ethnic groups such as migrants to a different country and culture
        • A Spiritual revolution
          • There is now a spiritual market and Christianity is giving way to 'holistic spirituality' and practices that emphasise personal development and subjective experience
          • EVAL: WOODHEAD & HEELAS: the growth of NAMs has not been enough to compensate for the decline in traditional religion so there has not been a spiritual revolution
    • Secularisation in America
      • Declining church attendance
        • HADAWAY & BRUCE
          • Those who claim to go to church is 83% higher than those that actually attend
          • The 'attendance gap' is widening because it is still seen as socially desirable to atted church
      • Secularisation from within
        • BRUCE
          • The emphasis on traditional Christian beliefs has declined and religion in America has become 'psychologised' or turned into a form of therapy
          • The purpose of religion has turned from seeking salvation in heaven to seeking personal improvement in this world
      • Religious diversity
        • The growth of religious diversity has also contributed to secularisation from within as churchgoers become less dogmatic in their views
        • BRUCE identifies trends of practical relativism among American Christians involving acceptance of the view that others are entitled to hold beliefs that are different to one's own
        • There has also been an erosion in absolutism- that is we now live in a society where many people hold completely different views to one another which undermines our assumptions of the truth
    • Difficulties in measuring seculistaion
      • Measuring religion
        • Surveys of membership
        • Church attendance
        • Marriage/ divorce rates
        • Christenings/ baptisms
      • Defining secularisation
        • WILSON: secularisation is 'the process whereby religious practice, thinking and institutions lose significance in society'
        • GLASER: levels of analysis= interpersonal (thoughts & feelings), organisational (power of church), and cultural (values in society)
        • disappearance vs differentiation?
      • Defining religion
        • Functional (inclusive, less likely to think secularisation is happening)
        • Substantive (exclusive, more likely to think secularisation is happening)
        • Social constructionist (anything can be a religion, cannot say whether secularisation is happening or not)

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