Religion, renewal and coice

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  • Religion, renewal and choice
    • Postmodernity and religion
      • Some sociologists argue that religion is not declining it is simply changing. Such as individualism, consumerism or a shift from modern, late modern or postmodern society.
      • Believing without belonging:
        • Grace Davie argues that religion is not declining but simply taking a differnt more privatised form. People no longer go to church because they feel they have to. Churchgoing has declined this is because it is now a matter of personal  choice rather than an obligation.
        • We now have believing without belonging- people hold religious beliefs but dont go to church. The decline of traditional religion is matched by the growth of a new form of religion. There is a trend towards vicarious religion where a small number of professional clergy practise religion on behalf of a much larger number of people.
        • In societies like Britain despite low attendance many people still use the church for rites of passage- baptisms, weddings and funerals
        • Davie rejects secularisation theory's assumption that modernisation affects every society in the same way instead there are multiple modernities. E.G- Britain and America are both modern societies but with different patterns of religion- high church attendance in America, low in Britain but accompanied by believing without belonging.
        • Criticisms: Voas and Crockett- the british social attitudes surveys from 1983- 2000. Both show that church attendance and belief in god are declining. If Davie were right we would expect to see higher levels of belief
        • Bruce- If people are not willing to attend church regulary, this may just reflect  the declining strength of their beliefs rather than some continuing religiosity.
        • Bibby- candadian survey 25% canadians attended church regulary, 80% held religious beliefs
    • Spiritual shopping:
      • Hervieu Leger: supports the theme of personal choice and believing without belonging. There has been cultural amnesia= a loss of collective memory. People have lost the religion that used to be handed down from generation to generation through family and church.
      • Greater equality has undermined the traditional churchs power to impose religion from above, so young people no longer inherit a fixed religious identity
      • However while traditional institutional religion has declined, religion continues through individual consumerism. People have become spiritual shoppers. Religion is now individualised- we now develop our own so it yourself beliefs.
      • Hervieu Legers views can be related to the idea of modernity. The idea that in recent times some of the trends found in modern society have begun to accelerate. E.G- the decline of tradition and increasing individualism.
      • Two religious types that are emerging: Pilgrims- follow an individual path in a search for self- discovery. E.G- New Age or through individual therapy. Converts join religious groups that offter a strong dense of belonging. This re- creates a sense of community
    • Lyon: Jesus in disneyland
      • Lyon argues taht postmodern society has several features that are changing the nature of religion. Glbalisation, increades importance and the media and consumerism. As a result traditional religion is giving way to new religious forms and these demonstrate its continuing strength.
      • The relocation of religion: as a result of globalisationthere is increased movement of religious ideas across natioinal boundaires.The media now saturate us with images and messages from around the globe, giving us instant access to the ideas and beliefs previously remote religions.
      • These ideas are disembedded as the media lift them out of their local contexts and move them to a different place and time. E.G- televangelism relocates religion to the internet and TV allowing believers to express their faith without attending church.
      • So religion has become de- instionalised. its signs and images become detached from their place in religious institutions, floating and multiplying on TV and incyber space a cultural resource that individuals can adapt for their own purposes.
      • Religious consumerism- postmodern society involves the idea that we now construct our idenities through what we consume.
      • This is also true of religion- we are spiritual shoppers choosing religious beliefs and practices to meet our individual needs from the vast range on offer in the religious marketplace. we can pick and mix elements of different faiths to suit our tasts and make them part of our identity
      • In lyons view religion has relocated to the sphere of consumption. People may have ceased to belong to religious organisations, but have not aboned religion. They have become religious consumers making conscious choices about which elements of religion they find useful
      • One effect of having access to a great variety beliefs is loss of faith in metanarratives (worldview that claim to have the absolute, authoritative truth, such as the traditional religions becuase peole become sceptical that any one of them is really true
      • Previously dominant organisations and traditions thus lose their authority and declin. In their place, many new movements spring up that consumers can sample.
      • Re- enchantment of the world- Lyon sees recent decades as a period of re- enchantment with the growth of unconventional beliefs and practices. Although traditional religion has declined in Europe, Lyon points to the growth of no traditional religion in the West and elsewhere.

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