Explanations of secularisation

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  • Created by: Tamara
  • Created on: 10-01-13 21:08
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  • Explanations of Secularisation
    • Religious diversity
      • Berger: Another cause of secularisationwould be a trend towards religious diversity. In the middle ages the catholic church held an absolute monopoly and had no challenges
      • Since the 16th century protest and reformation the number and variety of religious organisationshas grown. Each with a different version of the truth. Bruce sees this as the most important cause of secularisation.
      • Difficult to live in a world containing a large number of incompatiblebeliefs without concluding that none of them is wholly true.
    • Cultural defence and cultural transition
      • Bruce identifies two counter trends that seem to contradict the secularisation theory.
      • Cultural defence: religion provides a focus for the defence of  nattional or ethic group identity in a struggle against an external force. Cultural transition: religion provides a sense of community for ethic groups living in a different country and culture.
      • Bruce argues that cultural defence/ transition dont contradict secularisation theory  since religion only survives in these situations as a focus for group identity and not as an expression of religious faith. E.G- once communism had fallen in Poland, church attendance declined.
    • Spiritual Revolution
      • Spiritual revolution is taking place with traditional christianity giving way to a New Age spirituality that emphasises personal development and experience. The spiritual market is growing. E.G- The huge number of books about self help and spirituality and the many therapies from meditation to crystal healing.
      • Heelas and Woodhead studied Kendall: investigate whether traditional religon has declinedand how far the growth of spirituality is compensationg for this. They distinguish between the congregationaldomain, traditional and evangelical christian churches. The holistic milieu, spirituality and the new age.
      • They found that: a typical week in 2000, 7.9% attend church (congregational domain). 1.6% took part in spiritual activities (holistic milieu)
      • Within the congregationaldomain, the traditional churches were losing support while the evangelical churches were holding their own. Fewer were involved in the holistic milieu but it was growing.
      • Religion emphasises conforming to church authority, self sacrifice and deference. Spirituality focuses on personal development, autpnomy and connecting your inner self.
      • Heelas and Woodhead
        • New age spirituality has grown because of a massive subjective turn in todays culture- a shift towards exploring your inner self by following a spiritual path.
        • Evangelical churches are more successful than the traditional churches because they emphasise the subjective aspects: spiritual healing and growth through the personal experience of being born again.
        • In the spiritual marketplace therefore the winners are those who appeal to personal experiences as the only genuine source of meaning and fulfilment, rather than the recieved teachings and commandmenss of traditional religion.
        • This doesnt mean a spiritual revolution has taken place- the smaller growth of the holistic milieu has not compensated for the larger decline of tradtional religion.


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