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Declining church attendance

Church attendance has declined- 40% of the adult population in 1850 to 10-15% in 1961 to 7% in 2005.

Attendance of sunday school- declined.

Declining attendance=churches close=demolished/converted in another use.

Declining membership of large religions such as CofE.

Few baptisms and fewer weddings in church.

:(  church statistics lack validity- ignore belief without belonging, may not look at all religions.

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Declining religious beliefs

Decline in people who have religious beliefs, increase in people who hold no religious belief.

:(- may lack validity- people not willing to discuss personal matters. Social desirability bias. Difficult to define 'belief'

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Declining religious institutions

Number of professional clergy has declined.

State taken over religion as the major provider of education.

Also taken over the role as a provider of social welfare and law and order, meaning the church has lost much of its influence on daily life and has been marginalised to a more private institution.

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Rationalisation- religious ideas+beliefs are replaced by scientific ideas.

Weber- before the protestant reformation of the 16th century- belief God created and controlled the world. Considered possible to influence God's actions through prayer. However, protestant reformation led to the view of God as transcendent- created the world, doesn't control events. Prayer no longer suitable to influence events. Rational thought. Led to disenchantment- magic+mystery if religion replaced with rational way of thought.

Bruce- technical world view- technological explanations have replaced scientific one with little recognition to religious explanations.

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Structural differentiation

Parsons- industrialisation has led to development of specialist institutions to perform certain roles in society. Previously carried out by religion- taken over by the state. Led to disengagement of religion from social+political aspects of daily life. Media- source of info and moral guidance, not the church. Politicians less worried about being challenged by religious leaders- gay marriage.

:( church has less power in society- views no longer considered important + fewer people interact with the church as other institutions provide the roles they use.

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Religious diversity

Religious diversity- further evidence of secularisation.

Established church can no longer create a sacred canopy- beliefs of that religion shared by society. Many religions to choose from, each having their own beliefs and claiming to hold a monopoly view of the truth. Therefore become relative to an individuals POV, rather than being accepted as the absolute truth.

Berger- religious diversity can stimulate interest in religion, rather than leading to its decline.

Beckford- religious diversity may strengthen rather than undermine commitment to religious belief.

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Social and cultural diversity

Wilson- Industrialisation led to the break-up of close-knit communities- people left rural areas to move to urban areas.

Pre-industrial rural communities would have been bound together through beliefs expressed through one religion. Harder as industrialisation and urbanisation created greater social and cultural diversity- variety of beliefs- undermining the credibility of the established church.

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Cultural defence and transition

Religion can act as a means of cultural defence- focal point for defence of national/ethnic identity against threat of external source.

Help with cultural transition- supports immigrants moving into a new culture.

Bruce- further evidence of secularisation- church is no longer being used for an expression of religious belief and commitment- popular for functions not trad. performed by religion.

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A spiritual revolution? The Kendal Project

Refers to the growth of new age/spiritual practises with emphasis on 'inner self'- demonstrated by growth of 'spiritual market' of books about self help+spirituality, courses+therapies- crystal healing etc.

Kendal project- had decline of trad. Religion matched growth of new age spirituality? Heelas and Woodhead argued new age was becoming more popular than trad. Religion- subjective turn in todays culture, meaning a shift from the idea of doing ones duty and + obeying external authority, to a focus on oneself.

H+W concluded spiritual revolution hadn't taken place- numbers in new age practises were too small to replace those dropping out of trad. Religion. Evidence of secularisation- subjective turn has undermined trad. Religion.

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Postmodernism and religion

Religion is not disappearing, but changing due to changes in a postmodern society.

Hervieu-Leger- people have become consumers of religion, can go spirituality shopping- try out different religions until they find out that suits them. 'Pick+mix' religion- selecting elements from a range of different religions to create their own personal religious belief. In a pomo society if that pick+mix religion works best for them then its the best religion for them.

Davie- religion is becoming privatised. Don't have to attend a place of worship to be religious. Church attendance- personal choice, rather than obligation. Belief without belonging: hold religious beliefs but choose not to attend a place of worship.

Voas+Crockett- religious beliefs AND church attendance are declining- undermining Davie.

Bruce- religions becoming weaker because how religious can a person be if they cannot be bothered to attend a place of worship? Commitment=not strong.

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Davie: Vicarious religion

Vicarious religion- small number of professional clergy practise religion on behalf of a much larger number of people.

Trend towards this.

People may not regularly go to church, but many still use the church for personal matters (weddings, funerals.) What appears to be a low level off commitment isn't as people still turn to religion as life events and times of need.

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Lyon: media, globalisation and religion

Belief without belonging is becoming more popular in a pomo society. Trad. Religion is being replaced by new forms of religion- doesn't mean religion is no longer important. Globalisation and the growth of info and communication technology has enabled us to learn about beliefs from all around the world.

Consequence- religion has become disembedded- removed from its original context by the media.

Televangelism- takes religion out of its trad. Context in a place of worship and put on TV/internet.

Lyon recognises religion is part of a sphere of consumption- people don't abandon religion, select best bits to suit them. Led to a decline in metanarratives- trad. Versions of the truth less dominant + new religious movements appear that people can choose from. Society does not become increasingly rational+scientific. Late 20th century- new re-enchantment-unconventional beliefs, practises+spiritualists. Trad. Religion may have declined, but non-trad. Religion remain important.

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Religious market theory: Stark+ Bainbridge

Secularisation tends to focus on Europe- ignores flourishing nature of religion in USA+elsewhere.
Believe religion acts as a compensator for things we can't gain e.g. immortality- life after death compensates it.
Religion is in a constant cycle of decline, renewal+revival. Some religions decline-others grow.
Churches have to compete with each other to attract followers- like businesses- only survive if they meet their customers needs.
Demand for religion is highest where there are many to choose from. Lowest where there is a monopoly of the truth. Thrives in USA- no monopoly of the truth but many to choose from.
Choice provides competition between religions. Competition=healthy and vibrant religious market. Religious participation dependent on the supply of religion, rather than demand. Lack of supply=decline of religion.
:( Bruce-religions in decline in Europe+USA
:( Norris+Inglehart- Catholic countries- Ireland- have high levels of religious participation even thought they have a religious monopoly. Holland+Australia have low levels of participation- no monopoly and many religions. Contradicts religious market theory.

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Norris+Inglehart: existential security theory

Reject religious market theory- too focused on USA and ignores levels of religiosity between countries.

Different levels of religion exist due to different levels of existential security:survival is secure enough to be taken for granted.

High existential=low religion- wealthy societies

low existential=high religion- poor societies.

Demand for religion also varies within countries- higher in USA than Europe because of greater levels of social inequality in USA- greater levels of religiousity amongst poorer social groups there.

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Secularisation in the USA

Higher level of religiosity than many other countries. Surveys of church attendance consistently show higher attendance in American than elsewhere.

However, Wilson and Bruce both argue that secularisation is happening in America.

Hadaway: Church attendance-exaggerated by many Americans. Head counts were much lower than surveys. Surveys of church attendance lack validity. Suggesting a decline in church attendance.

Bruce: America has been secularised from within- had to change to fit in with the secular nature of society. Become a form of therapy rather than a deep commitment to religious belief. Appears popular but it less religious.

Also argued American christians are more accepting of other beliefs- undermining the view that christianity is the absolute truth.

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