- Rational ways of thinking and acting replace religious ones.
- Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther (16thC) started process of rationalisation.
- Undermined religious world view of the Middle Ages and replaced it with scientific outlook.
- Medieval Catholic worldview saw world as an enchanted garden controlled by spiritual beings.
- Humans could try to influence these beings through prayers and spells.
- Protestantism saw God as transcendent rather than immanent.
- Events explained as workings of natural forces rather than supernatural.
- Allowed science to thrive.
- Bruce - technological worldview has replaced religious explanations for tragedies etc.
- This worldview encourages people to take religion less seriously.
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- Structural differentiation is the process of specialisation in industrial development.
- Specialised institutions now carry out functions previously performed but a single institution.
- Industrialisation led to religion being replace by smaller more specialised institutions.
- Structural differentiation leads to disengagement of religion.
- Funtions are transfered to other institutions.
- Religion becomes disconnected from wider society.
- Religion has become more privatised.
- Now confined to private sphere of home and family.
- Religion has become more of a personal choice .
- Religious institutions have lost influence on society.
- Tradition symbols and rituals have lost meaning.
- Even where religion continues to perform functions it must conform to state regulations.
- e.g. Education, Social welfare.
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Social and Cultural Diversity
- Pre-industrial communities shared values through collective ritual.
- Now religion has lost basis in stable local communities and thus its hold over individuals.
- Industrialisation undermines consensus of religious belief.
- Small close-knit rural communities give way to large loose-knit urban ones with diverse values.
- Social and geographical mobility breaks apart communities and creates more diversity.
- Diversity of culture and lifestyles undermines plausibility of religious beliefs.
- Plausibility relies on the practicing community of believers.
- Relgion can be a source of identity on a worldwide scale.
- Some religious communities are imagined though global media.
- Pentecostal and other groups often flourish in impersonal urban areas.
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- Trend towards religious diversity has caused secularisation.
- In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church held absolute monopoly.
- Everyone lived under a single sacred canopy.
- No challengers gave beliefs more plausibility.
- Since Protestant Reformation variety of religious organisations has continued to grow.
- Each organisation has a different version of the truth.
- No church can now claim an unchallenged monopoly of truth.
- Society is no longer unified under single belief system.
- Plurality means people's interpretation of the truth varies.
- This creates a crisis of credibility,.
- Diversity undermines religion's plausibility structure.
- With choice people are likely to question all religions.
- Belief becomes relative rather than absolute.
- Creates the possibility of opting out of religion all together.
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Cultural Defence and Transition
- Two counter trends appear to go against secularisation theory.
- Cultural defence - religion provides a focal point for defense of national or ethnic identity.
- e.g. Catholocism in Poland
- Cultural transition - religion provides support and a sense of community for ethnic groups.
- e.g. Irish, African Caribbean, Muslim migrants to the UK.
- This does not disprove secularisation but shows that religion only survives where it performs functions for groups.
- Berger - changed his view and argues diversity and choice can stimulate interest in religion.
- e.g. Growth of Evangelicalism in Latin America.
- Beckford - opposing vies can strengthen a group's committment rather than undermining.
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- Traditional Christianity is giving way to holistic spirituality.
- Interest in spiritual market is evident through number of self-help and spirituality books sold.
HEELAS AND WOODHEAD:
- Distinguished between congregational domain and holistic milieu.
- Found 7.9% attended church and 1.6% took part in holistic milieu.
- In congregation domain traditional churches lost support while Evangelical thrived.
- Fewer involved in holistic milieu but it was growing.
- New Age appeals to subjective turn in today's culture away from obeying external authority.
- Traditional religions that demand obedience are declining.
- Evangelical churches are more successful as they emphasise the importance of spiritual healing through being born again.
- In the spiritual market place those who appeal to personal experience thrive.
- Although holisitc milieu has grown it has not compensated for decline of religion.
- Therefore secularisation is occurring rather than a spiritual revolution.
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