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· A process whereby religion loses its influence over the various
spheres of social life
There are three levels of secularisation;
Religious practice and functions ­ the extent to which people are
involved in church
Religious organisations ­ the extent to which the church is involved
in society and has influence
Religious belief ­ The extent to which people believe in concepts of
God, may still exert a powerful influence over people's life
· Peter Berger: "the process by which sectors of society and culture are
removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols"
· Weber: Rationalisation has stripped the world of mystery. Science
now has the answer as opposed to God…read more

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Durkheim: Believes secularisation can be reversed
· Individualism undermines the collective consciousness
· Social spheres separated by industrialisation and urbanisation which
undermines stability
Marx: Secularisation is inevitable
· Secularisation is inevitable due to socialisation
· Religion will die when capitalism is overthrown; it will no longer be the
`opium of the masses'
Woodhead & Heelas:
Disappearance Differentiation Thesis
· Modernity is bringing about the ·Religion is declining in social
death of region significance
·Rationalisation has caused people to ·It no longer parts an important part
turn to science for answers in society or a say in everyday life
·Religious significance for society & ·It has become
individuals is declining separated/differentiated from the
·People no longer depend on wider social structure
communities for support…read more

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· Eurobarometer Poll: In 2005, 38% of the population believed in God
compared to 70% in the 80's
· 2001 Census: 72% of people who claimed to be Christian knew very
little about the life of Jesus
· In 2005, 2% of the population attended religious ceremonies
compared with 40% in 1851
· Fewer than ½ of marriages had a religious ceremony
· Less than ¼ of babies are being baptised
· In 2005 only 6.3% of the adult population attended church on
Sundays…read more

Slide 5

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· The Protestant Reformation started a process of rationalism
· This undermined the religious worldview and replaced in with the
rational scientific outlook
· Protestantism saw God as transcendent, he created the world but did
not intervene it in
· Events could no longer be explained by supernatural beings but
natural laws
· Using reason and science, humans could understand the laws of
· This began the disenchantment of the world
· This enables science to thrive and provide the basis for technological
· Science can now provide rather than God
· Bruce: A technological worldview has replaced religious or
supernatural explanations of why things happen…read more

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· Structural differentiation leads to the disengagement of religion
· Its functions are transferred to other intuitions and it becomes
disconnected from wider society
· E.g. The church used to be in charge of education but now the state has
· Bruce: Religion has become privatised; confined to the private sphere
of the home and family
· Religious beliefs are now a matter of choice rather than social norms
· Thus, religious institutions have lost their influence on wider society
· Even when religion continues to perform functions, it must conform to
the requirements of the secular state
· E.g. Catholic school education must follow the national curriculum…read more

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