Religion, Renewal & Choice


New Forms of Religion 1

Grace Davie: Believing without Belonging

  • Religion is not in decline, but is taking a more privatised form
  • People are reluctant to join orhganisations, but still hold religious beliefs
  • Vicarious religion: Religion practiced by an active minority on behalf of the rest of the population


  • Voas & Crockett: Both church attendance & belief in God are declining
  • Bruce: Unwillingness to invest time in going to church reflects declining belief

Spiritual Shopping

  • Hervieu-Leger: cultural amnesia. Loss of collective memory / emphasis on religion
  • Individual consumerism has replaced collective tradition

Postmodern Religion

  • Globalisation has lead to greatly increased movements of ideas & beleifs across national boundaries. Religious ideas have become disembedded from physical churches
  • Online religion & religion online
  • Religious consumerism - pick & mix religion & the death of metanarratives (Lyotard)
  • Self-religions & NAMs
  • Lyon: "re-enchantment" - growth of unconventional beliefs & non-traditional religion
1 of 4

New Forms of Religion 2

Heelas & Woodhead: The Kendall Project

  • The congregational doman: Traditional Christianity (7.9%)
  • The holistic miliieu: Spirituality & the New Age (1.6%)


  • Growth of the New Age is not enough to make up for decline of traditional religion
  • New Age parents not socialising children into New Age beliefs
  • Lack of serious commitment to New Age
  • New Age lacks hierarchy, consensus & structure
2 of 4

Religious Market Theory

Stark & Bainbridge: Religious Market Theory

  • Based on 2 assumptions - 1 People are naturally religious & religion meets human needs. 2 It is human nature to seek rewards & avoid costs
  • Religion provides compensators - where real rewards are unobtainable, religion promises supernatural ones
  • Pluralism is good for religion as it is forced to change to attract new members. USA - lots of denominations. UK - one church closely linked to the state


  • Bruce: Stats show that diversity is accompanied by decline
  • Countries w/ religious monopoly have high participltion e.g. ROI
3 of 4

Secularisation & Security

Norris & Inglehart: Existential Security Theory

  • Poor societies: More life-threatening risks = high levels of religiosity
  • Rich societies: Fewer life-threatening risks = low levels of religiosity
  • Europe is more equal than America = less religious

State Welfare & Religiosity

  • The state now provides welfare, so religion doesn't have to
  • Welfare does not answer ultimate questions, so religion will not disappear completely


  • Qualitative research is needed to define existential security
  • Norris & Inglehart ignore positive reasons for religiosity & the rich
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Beliefs in Society resources »