Explanations of secularisation 1

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Secularisation and the decline of religion have often been linked to major social changes such as modernisation, industralisation and its effects, and increased social and religous diversity. Sociologists have developed several explanations of secularisation;


Rationalisation is the process by which rational ways of thinking and acting replace religous ones. Max Weber argues that Western society has undergone a process of rationalisation in the last few centuries. 

  • The 16th century Protestant Reformation undermined the religous worldview of the middle ages, replacing it with a modern rational scientific outlook.
  • The medieval catholic worldview saw the world as an 'enchanted garden' in which God, angels etc where apparent. They changed the course of events through their supernatural powers and miracle-working interventions.

Disenchantment the protestant reformation brought a new worldview that saw God as exsiting above and outside the world, not as intervening in it. The world had become disenchanted, left to run according to the course of nature.

  • events were thus no longer to be explained as the work of unpredictable supernatural beings, but as the predictable workings


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