AQA A2 Secularisation - sociology notes

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Topic 3: Secularisation
Secularisation in Britain
Based on Census 1851, Crockett (1998) estimates 40% or more of adult population
attended church on Saturday; This is much higher than today, so sociologist call it
the `Golden age'
There's been major changes in religion in the UK
Decline in population going to the church
Increase in the average age of churchgoers
Fewer baptisms and church weddings
Decline in the numbers holding traditional Christian beliefs
Greater religious diversity
Church attendance today:
6.3% of adult population attended church on Sundays in 2005.
Churchgoing has therefore halved since Wilsons study. Sunday schools
have also declined.
Attendance and membership of large religious organisations have declined
more than small organisations, however the growth of the small ones haven't
made up for the large ones, so overall trend is declining.
In 1971, three-fifths of weddings were in church, by 2006, the proportion
was only a third
Baptism of children fell from 55% in 1991 to 41% in 2005
Religious beliefs today:
Evidence about religious beliefs from over 60 years show
More people claim they hold religious beliefs than belonging to one
Religious belief is declining with decline in church attendance &
Religious institutions today:
The influence of religion as a social institution has also declined. Although
the church has some influence on public life, it has declined significantly
since the 19th century. Instead the state had taken over functions the church
would perform.
Eg, until the mid 19th century, churches would provide education, but now
its provided by the state with `national curriculums' although there's a legal
act to provide daily worship, BBC survey in 2005 found half secondary
schools in wales fall to comply with it
The number of clergy fell from 45,000 in 1900 to 34,000 in 200- at a time
where the population almost doubled in size. If it kept pace with population
growth, the clergy would now be 80,000. Lack of clergy means the
day-to-day influence of the church is reduced.

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Explanations of Secularisation
Modernization; decline of traditional and its replacement with rational and
scientific ways of thinking.
Secularisation theory emphasizes the effect of social change on religion.
Growth of social and religious diversity. The growth of diversity has
undermined the authority of religious institutions and credibility of
religious beliefs
Rationalisation refers to the process by which rational ways of thinking
replace religious ones.
Max Weber (1905)-
Structural differentiation- Parson defines it as the process of specialization
that occurs with the development of industrial society.…read more

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Pentecostal and other religious groups often flourish in `impersonal' urban
Religious diversity- Berger (1969) another cause for secularization is the
trend towards religious diversity, where there's many interpretations of faith.
Before there was no challenges with the church & there was greater
Society is no longer unified under the single sacred canopy provided by
one church. Religious diversity creates a plurality of life worlds;
people's perceptions of the world vary and different interpretations.
Berger says this creates a crisis of credibility for religion.…read more


Adila Shaheen

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