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Wilson (1966) ­ argued that western societies had been undergoing a long-term process of secularisation.
He defines secularisation as:
"The process whereby religious beliefs, practices and institutions lose social significance" (Wilson,
Wilson concludes that Britain has become a secular society.
Weber (1905) ­ a process of rationalisation (where rational ways of thinking and acting replace religious
ones) began in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther.
Disenchantment: Magical and religious ways (e.g. angels, the devil, supernatural powers) of
thinking starts the rationalisation process that leads to rational thinking. Reason and science
could discover the laws of nature. Science can therefore thrive.
A Technological View: Bruce (2002) ­ we look for technological and scientific explanations
instead of regarding evil spirits or `God's punishment' when bad things happen. Religious
explanations only survive when technology is least effective e.g. praying when suffering from
incurable illness.
What is the significance of this? Science may be replacing religion because science has led to higher
living standards, people might take religion less seriously and humans are now viewed as being in charge of
their own destiny and have the opportunity to `play God'.

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Social and Cultural Diversity
The industrialisation brought diversity of occupation, cultures and lifestyles which undermine
Even where people are religious, they cannot avoid knowing others around them hold very different
Bruce (2002) ­ plausibility (believability) of beliefs is undermined by alternatives and because of
Bruce (2002) ­ identifies two trends that go against secularisation. They are both associated with high
levels of religious participation.…read more

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Secularisation in America
In 1962, Wilson found ­ 45% of Americans attended church on Sundays.
However, argued that this was more an expression of the "American way of life" than deep religion
Bruce (2002) agreed & claimed that America was a secular society & is being coming increasingly
o Evidence: declining church attendance, "secularisation from within" & trend towards religious
diversity & relativism.
1) Declining Church Attendance: Since 1970s, opinion poll research exaggerates church attendance.…read more

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Religious diversity increases participation because it offers choice. No overall downward
trend.…read more

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Isaiah Cole


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