sacred and secular religion and politics worldwide pdf

Sacred and secular religion and politics worldwide pdf

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France, Post-secularism and Islam


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France, Post-secularism and Islam

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Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide Pippa Norris. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide. The death of religion was the conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century; indeed it has been regarded as the master model of sociological inquiry, where secularization was ranked with bureaucratization, rationalization, and urbanization as the key historical revolutions transforming medieval agrarian societies into modern industrial nations.

Wright Mills summarized this process: "Once the world was filled with the sacred -in thought, practice, and institutional form. After the Reformation and the Renaissance, the forces of modernization swept across the globe and secularization, a corollary historical process, loosened the dominance of the sacred. In due course, the sacred shall disappear altogether except, possibly, in the private realm. Critics point to multiple indicators of religious health and vitality today, ranging from the continued popularity of churchgoing in the United States to the emergence of New Age spirituality in Western Europe, the growth in fundamentalist movements and religious parties in the Muslim world, the evangelical revival sweeping through Latin America, and the upsurge of ethno-religious conflict in international affairs.

Berger, one of the foremost advocates of secularization during the s, recanted his earlier claims: "The world today, with some exceptions. This means that a whole body of literature by historians and social scientists loosely labeled 'secularization theory' is essentially mistaken. Was the predominant sociological view during the twentieth century totally misguided? Has the debate been settled? We think not. Talk of burying the secularization theory is premature.

The critique relies too heavily on selected anomalies and focuses too heavily on the United States which happens to be a striking deviant case rather than comparing systematic evidence across a broad range of rich and poor societies. There is no question that the traditional secularization thesis needs updating. It is obvious that religion has not disappeared from the world, nor does it seem likely to do so.

Nevertheless, the concept of secularization captures an important part of what is going on. This book develops a revised version of secularization theory that emphasizes the extent to which people have a sense of existential security -that is, the feeling that survival is secure enough that it can be taken for granted. We build on key elements of traditional sociological accounts while revising others.

We believe that the importance of religiosity persists most strongly among vulnerable populations, especially those living in poorer nations, facing personal survival-threatening risks.

We argue that feelings of vulnerability to physical, societal, and personal risks are a key factor driving religiosity and we demonstrate that the process of secularization -a systematic erosion of religious practices, values, and beliefs -has occurred most clearly among the most prosperous social sectors living in affluent and secure postindustrial nations.

Secularization is a tendency, not an iron law. One can easily think of striking exceptions, such as Osama bin Laden, who is or was extremely rich and fanatically religious. But when we go beyond anecdotal evidence such as this, we find that the overwhelming bulk of evidence points in the opposite direction: people who experience ego-tropic risks during their formative years posing direct threats to themselves and their families or socio-tropic risks threatening their community tend to be far more religious than those who grow up under safer, comfortable, and more predictable conditions.

In relatively secure societies, the remnants of religion have not died away; in surveys most Europeans still express formal belief in God, or identify themselves as Protestants or Catholics on official forms. But in these societies the importance and vitality of religion, its ever-present influence on how people live their daily lives, has gradually eroded. The most persuasive evidence about secularization in rich nations concerns values and behavior: the critical test is what people say is important to their lives and what they actually do.

As this book will document, during the twentieth century in nearly all postindustrial nations -ranging from Canada and Sweden to France, Britain, and Australia -official church records report that where once the public flocked to Sabbath worship services, the pews are now almost deserted. The surveys monitoring European churchgoing during the last fifty years confirm this phenomenon.

The United States remains exceptional in this regard, for reasons explained in detail later in Chapter 4. Despite trends in secularization occurring in rich nations, this does not mean that the world as a whole has become less religious. As this book will demonstrate The publics of virtually all advanced industrial societies have been moving toward more secular orientations during the past fifty years.

Nevertheless, 2. The world as a whole now has more people with traditional religious views than ever before -and they constitute a growing proportion of the world's population.

Though these two propositions may initially seem contradictory, they are not. As we will show, the fact that the first proposition is true helps account for the second -because secularization and human development have a powerful negative impact on human fertility rates.

Practically all of the countries in which secularization is most advanced show fertility rates far below the replacement level -while societies with traditional religious orientations have fertility rates that are two or three times the replacement level.

They contain a growing share of the world's population. The expanding gap between sacred and secular around the globe has important consequences for cultural change, society, and world politics. Part I uses this theoretical framework to develop and test a series of propositions, demonstrating how religiosity is systematically related to i levels of societal modernization, human security, and economic inequality; ii the predominant type of religious culture in any nation; iii generational shifts in values; iv different social sectors; and v patterns of demography, fertility rates, and population change.

Part III then examines the social and political consequences of secularization, and its ramifications for cultural and moral values, religious organizations and social capital, and voting support for religious parties. The conclusion summarizes the key findings and highlights the demographic patterns generating the widening gap over religion around the world.

This study draws on a massive base of new evidence generated by the four waves of the World Values Survey executed from to The World Values Survey has carried out representative national surveys in almost eighty societies, covering all of the world's major faiths. We also examine other evidence concerning religiosity from multiple sources, including Gallup International polls, the International Social Survey Program, and Eurobarometer surveys.

At one level, there is nothing novel or startling about our claims. A mainstream tradition in sociology, anthropology, history, and social psychology has long theorized that cross-cultural differences in religiosity exist in many societies worldwide. But traditional secularization theory has come under powerful and sustained criticism from many influential scholars during the past decade.

Systematic survey evidence comparing cultural attitudes toward religion across many developing nations remains scattered and inconclusive, with most studies limited to a handful of affluent postindustrial societies and established democracies in Western Europe and North America.

As well as reconceptualizing and refining secularization theory, our study examines the wealth of survey evidence for religiosity from a broader perspective and in a wider range of countries than ever before. Traditional Theories of SecularizationThe most influential strands of thought shaping the debate over secularization can be broadly subdivided into two perspectives. On the one hand, demand-side theories, which focus "bottom up" on the mass public, suggest that as societies industrialize, almost regardless of what religious leaders and organizations attempt, religious habits will gradually erode, and the public will become indifferent to spiritual appeals.

By contrast, the supplyside theory, which focuses "top-down" on religious organizations, emphasizes that the public demand for religion is constant and any cross-national variations in the vitality of spiritual life are the product of its supply in religious markets.

We then summarize our alternative theory of secularization, based on conditions of existential security, which is developed fully throughout this study. The Rational Weltanschauung: The Loss of FaithThe idea that the rise of a rational worldview has undermined the foundations of faith in the supernatural, the mysterious, and the magical predated the thought of Max Weber, but it was strongly influenced by his work in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism andin Economics andSociety Rationalism was thought to have rendered the central claims of the Church implausible in modern societies, blowing away the vestiges of superstitious dogma in Western Europe.

The loss of faith was thought to cause religion to unravel, eroding habitual churchgoing practices and observance of ceremonial rituals, eviscerating the social meaning of denominational identities, and undermining active engagement in faith-based organizations and support for religious parties in civic society. Science and religion could confront each other directly in a zero-sum game where scientific explanations undermined the literal interpretation of Biblical teachings from Genesis 1 and 2, exemplified by the Darwinian theory of evolution that challenged ideas of special creation by God.

Following the European enlightenment, rational calculation was thought to have gradually undercut the foundations of core metaphysical beliefs. The idea of the mysterious was regarded by Weber as something to be conquered by human reason and mastered by the products of technology, subject to logical explanations found in physics, biology, and chemistry rather than to divine forces outside this world. The dazzling achievements of medicine, engineering, and mathematics -as well as the material products generated by the rise of modern capitalism, technology, and manufacturing industry during the nineteenth century -emphasized and reinforced the idea of mankind's control of nature.

Priests, ministers, popes, rabbis, and mullahs appealing to divine authority became only one source of knowledge in modern societies, and not necessarily the most important or trusted one in many dimensions of life, when competing with the specialized expertise, certified training, and practical skills of professional economists, physicists, physicians, or engineers.

As Bruce summarized this argument:Industrialization brought with it a series of social changes -the fragmentation of the life-world, the decline of community, the rise of bureaucracy, technological consciousness -that together made religion less arresting and less plausible than it had been in pre-modern societies. That is the conclusion of most social scientists, historians, and church leaders in the Western world.

But if a rational worldview generates widespread skepticism about the existence of God and belief in the metaphysical, then those societies that express most confidence in science might be expected to prove least religious; in fact, as documented in Chapter 3, we find the reverse.

Functional Evolution: The Loss of PurposeA related explanation is offered by theories of functional differentiation in industrialized societies, predicting the loss of the central role of religious institutions in society. This argument originated from the seminal work of Emile Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life , and by the s the functionalist perspective had become the predominant sociological view.

These rituals played an essential function for society as a whole, Durkheim suggested, by sustaining social solidarity and cohesion, maintaining order and stability, thereby generating collective benefits.

Durkheim argued that industrialized societies are characterized by functional differentiation, where specialized professionals and organizations, dedicated to healthcare, education, social control, politics, and welfare, replaced most of the tasks once carried out exclusively in Western Europe by monasteries, priests, and parish churches. Faith-based voluntary and charitable organizations in the medieval era -the alms-house, the seminary, and the hospice -were displaced in Europe by the expansion of the welfare state during the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The growth of the state created publicly funded schools, healthcare, and welfare safety nets to care for the unemployed, the elderly, and the destitute. Stripped of their core social purposes, Durkheim predicted that the residual spiritual and moral roles of religious institutions would gradually waste away in industrial societies, beyond the traditional formal rites of births, marriages, and death, and the observance of special holidays.

The theory of evolutionary functionalism became the popular orthodoxy in the sociology of religion during the postwar decades. Jagodzinski and Dobbelaere, for example, proposed such an explanation to account for the shrinking church-going congregations in Western Europe: "All the empirical evidence in this chapter is compatible with the assumption that functional rationalization related to functional differentiation, detraditionalization, and ensuring individualization have a cumulative impact on the decline of church involvement, especially among the post-war generation.

An erosion of the social purpose of the church through functional differentiation does not necessarily mean that the core moral and spiritual roles of religious institutions are diminished or lost -indeed, they could become more important.

Functionalist theory, which dominated the literature on social development during the s and s, gradually fell out of intellectual fashion; the idea that all societies progress along a single deterministic pathway of socioeconomic development toward a common end-point -the modern secular democratic state -came under increasing challenge in anthropology, comparative sociology, and comparative politics from a multicultural perspective emphasizing that communities, societies, and states experience diverse forms of change.

Hence Andrew Greeley argues that diverse patterns of religiosity exist today, even among affluent European nations, rather than observing any consistent and steady conversion toward atheism or agnosticism, or any loss of faith in God.

After reviewing the historical evidence of churchgoing in Europe, Rodney Stark concludes that secularization is a pervasive myth, based on failed prophecies and ideological polemic, unsupported by systematic data: "The evidence is clear that claims about a major decline in religious participation [in Europe] are based in part on very exaggerated perceptions of past religiousness.

Participation may be very low today in many nations, but not because of modernization; therefore the secularization thesis is irrelevant. The idea that religion would shrink and eventually vanish was a product of the social and cultural milieu of its time, fitting the evolutionary functional model of modernization. The emergence of new spiritual movements, and the way that religion remains entangled in politics, suggests, Hadden believes, that secularization is not happening as predicted.

He argues that those who claim that secularization has occurred have exaggerated and romanticized the depth of religious practices in the European past and also simultaneously underestimated the power and popularity of religious movements in the present era, exemplified by an evangelical revival in Latin America and New Age spirituality in Western Europe. The body of scholarship that arose during the last decade has generated a vigorous debate about the contemporary vitality of religious life, raising important questions about the links that were assumed to connect the process of modernization with secularization.

The Theory of Religious Markets: The Loss of CompetitionTraditional secularization theory is now widely challenged, but no single theoretical framework has yet won general acceptance to replace it. The supply-side school of rational choice theorists that emerged in the early s, although remaining controversial, provides the most popular alternative. Indeed, Warner claims that this represents a "new paradigm," as the model has stimulated numerous studies during the last decade.

Iannaccone, William Sims Bainbridge, and R. Stephen Warner. The Protestant Reformation led to the fragmentation of Western Christendom, with diverse sects and denominations emphasizing alternative beliefs and doctrines.


By Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart. New York: Cambridge University Press, Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.

Nikki R. Keddie, professor emerita of history at the University of California at Los Angeles, has been a Fellow of the American Academy since She has written on Iranian history, women in the Muslim world, religio-political trends worldwide, and Sayyed Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani. In the quarter century since the Iranian Revolution took much of the world by surprise — not least in the way its religious leadership mobilized a genuinely popular uprising — many commentators in the West have been inclined to see the Middle East and South Asia as cultural backwaters, where religion-based politics are overcoming the secular forms of political organization appropriate to modern industrial societies. But this understanding of recent events is misleading. A comparative historical survey of the rise and fall of successive waves of secularism in the modern era reveals a more complicated and paradoxical picture of trends in Western countries and of the impact of these trends on societies struggling to emulate the economic success of the modern West.

During recent decades, radical right parties have been surging in popularity in many nations, gaining legislative seats, enjoying the legitimacy endowed by ministerial office, and entering the corridors of government power. The popularity of leaders such as Le Pen, Haider, and Fortuyn has aroused widespread popular concern and a burgeoning scholarly literature. Despite the interest, little consensus has emerged about the primary factors driving this phenomenon. To understand this phenomenon, the book sees party competition as a regulated electoral marketplace, where the rules shape both electoral "demand" and party "supply". On the demand-side, Radical Right suggests that the growth of political disaffection and partisan dealignment in contemporary democracies make it easier for supporters to defect, at least temporarily, from mainstream parties. The rising salience of cultural protectionism, in a backlash against globalization and population migration, has altered public opinion, providing sporadic openings for new parties.

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This chapter explores a puzzle in comparative religion—state relations: both the atheist Chinese communist government and the democratic Taiwanese government have substantially restored the traditional, pluralistic, religious state of Chinese dynasties. After , the Chinese government and the Taiwanese government developed different types of religion—state relations. The Chinese Communist government initially aimed to eliminate all religions but lost its religious legitimacy. After , it swiftly established a Leninist religious state that would regain its religious legitimacy but maintain its dominance over all other religions.

Indeed, prior to the emergence of a post-secular understanding of the world, religion appeared to be a matter more or less disregarded in the field of international relations. Post-secularism thus appears to be way of apprehending the complex articulation between the religious and the secular which differs from the traditional secularisation theory. While secularisation theory can be defined in different ways, one of the key ideas suggests that modernity tends to reduce the importance of religion in societies. Yet, this assumption offers a very generic and simplistic view of the world and its relationship with religion. In a way, the authors criticize secularisation and its tendency to perceive the world through a Western scope.

Cheng-tian Kuo

In sociology , secularization or secularisation [1] is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions. The secularization thesis expresses the idea that as societies progress, particularly through modernization and rationalization , religious authority diminishes in all aspects of social life and governance. As a second meaning, the term "secularization" may also occur in the context of the lifting of monastic restrictions from a member of the clergy. Secularization, in the main, sociological meaning of the term, involves the historical process in which religion loses social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization the role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted.


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