the dialectics of secularization on reason and religion pdf

The dialectics of secularization on reason and religion pdf

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Edited by Atalia Omer, R. Scott Appleby, and David Little

Chapter 3 Religion in Secularized and Post-Secularized Europe

Access options available:. On one hand, Habermas proposes that all citizens join together in the procedures of communicative reason, locating democratic legitimacy in nothing but the ungrounded activity of inter-subjective discourse itself.

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Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. Religious traditions have always played a central role in supporting those experiencing poverty, through service delivery as well as the provision of spiritual resources that provide mechanisms for resilience at both the individual and community level.

However, the fact that religions can be seen to support social structures and practices that contribute towards inequality and conflict, also underscores a role for religious traditions in creating conditions of poverty. This reflects the realization that modernization and secularization do not necessarily go together, and that religious values and faith actors are important determinants in the drive to reduce poverty, as well as in structures and practices that underpin it.

This paper traces three phases of engagement between religions and global development institutions. First, what does this mean for the apparent processes of secularization? Sometimes this involves those motivated by their religion helping other members of their own religious community, but religious practitioners also often extend their support to those from other religions. Moreover, the fact that religions can be seen to support social structures and practices that contribute towards inequality and conflict, also underscores a role for religious traditions in creating conditions of poverty Tomalin, The complex ways that religions intersect with poverty has meant that, for the secular global development institutions that have emerged since the end of World War II, religions in terms of their values and institutions have proved to be troublesome bedfellows.

This is despite obvious areas of shared interest and concern between such institutions and, as I will argue, despite the roots of Western-led global development institutions in the Christian missionary era, which have now been forgotten Deacon and Tomalin, ; Haustein and Tomalin, Since the early s there has been a marked increase in interest from secular global development institutions, including development donors and NGOs, in funding and working with faith actors around poverty reduction.

Key global poverty reduction initiatives such as the UN Millennium Development Goals, which ran from —, increasingly drew faith actors into their activities and faith-based organizations FBOs couched their work in terms of these shared global goals. Footnote 1.

Footnote 2 My focus is original in that it will not concern the way that different religious traditions might approach development and humanitarian activities, but rather the extent to which they are part of a conversation and field of practice that enables them to join their efforts with those of global development and humanitarian actors in the first place.

To better understand the nature of this engagement between religions and global development institutions, I offer an original analysis that traces three phases of religion-development engagement. These are not clear-cut phases, and there is overlap between them. However, they are analytically significant as they enable us to identify the shifting engagement between religions and global development institutions over time, and to make visible the religious roots of the contemporary secular Western development project.

However, during the colonial era faith actors had a more central and recognized role to play in social welfare and poverty reduction in contrast to the role they have played since the midth century. Moreover, the post-Second World War period marks a key phase in the rise of secularism in the Global North, and a lessening of the hold that religious values and sources of authority have upon individuals and the state.

It was at this time that theories of secularization in sociology began to take hold, with both a descriptive and normative function Berger, It must also be noted that religious traditions played a role in shaping understandings of development and providing welfare support in pre-colonial settings.

However, my aim in this paper is to understand the different phases of engagement between religions and global development institutions and discourses, with the latter having their roots in the colonial era. This has marginalized the significant role that diverse religious traditions have continued to play in local level development globally as well as forgetting the roots of Western-led global development in the colonial missionary era.

Secular institutions now recognize that faith actors are there and some faith actors have learnt how to engage with the discourse of development and to situate themselves to have an impact.

There has been much celebration in the religion and development literature, both academic and practitioner, that faith actors are now viewed as legitimate development partners, invited to participate in policy dialogue and in receipt of donor funding Clarke and Jennings, ; Tomalin, ; Clarke, While global development institutions are taking religion more seriously, they mainly do this through partnering with FBOs that look like themselves, and those FBOs in turn have fashioned themselves to be allowed to participate in secular global development debates and practice.

I intend to evaluate whether this a fair assessment, or if we need to instead develop a more sophisticated account that can contribute towards better policy and practice regarding poverty reduction. While some faith actors prefer to operate on secular terms in their interactions with global development actors and embrace this identity at the same time not viewing themselves as handmaids of the neo-liberal consensus , other faith actors are critical that they are being instrumentalized by global development institutions to achieve pre-defined goals that reflect a problematic neo-liberal development model and that do not take the faith dimensions or the distinct contributions of faith actors seriously Deneulin and Banu, There is no doubt more than a little truth in this, but I will argue that the situation is more complex than this portrays it.

This paper makes a number of original contributions, comprising a new way of thinking about the religion-development field that is significant for scholars of religion and development, as well as faith-based and secular development actors. It will enable them to see what type of religion-development discourse dominates the religion-development domain i.

Religion-Development Domain. First, what has been missed in studies to date is that international FBOs strategically shift in register between secular modes of communication with global development actors to religious modes with local faith actors.

While international FBOs, such as Tearfund, Christian Aid or Islamic Relief, are negotiating and engaging with secular global development institutions to achieve shared goals such as the MDGs or the new SDGs, they also connect with and build the capacity of local faith actors in the Global South, who are disconnected from the global development industry.

Second, I argue that we need to view the religion-development domain as going beyond a rather narrow focus upon the engagement between global development actors and FBOs, which has tended to capture development policy, practice and studies so far i.

There is a realm of development-related activity by and between local faith actors and communities that is not easily packaged into the familiar categories of FBO or NGO, and which does not speak, nor is not readily translatable, into the secular language of global development discourses i.

Third, I will relate these observations to the theoretical literature and will offer a distinctive contribution to the sociology of religion. I will argue that theories of secularization and de-secularization need to be more nuanced to accommodate multiple co-existing types of religious-secular dynamics at play in the broader religion-development domain.

The paper brings together existing theories in a novel way and repackages them to make sense of the religion-development domain. This resembles the main argument being made here, that modern global development institutions have religious roots that today are obscured. There are also overlaps between the British pre-welfare state setting and the pre-global development setting, in that similar religious discourses and endeavours underpin each, as Britain was at that time a major colonial and missionary nation.

By the 18 th century many of the same individuals, organizations and Christian denominations feature in both stories, drawing on the Christian traditions of philanthropy, Liberal Anglicanism, Evangelicalism and Quakerism, which promoted social welfare and poverty reduction in Britain and also in the colonies. This includes members of the so-called Clapham Sect at the turn of the 18 th century, patronized by famous individuals such as William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner, to the later married couple William and Catherine Booth, who founded the Salvation Army in Tomkins, ; Howse, ; Hattersley, This was also the case in colonial settings.

While the slave trade was outlawed in and slave ownership throughout the Empire in , it was clear by the late s that slave raiding and trading in Africa had actually increased.

Let missionaries and schoolmasters, the plough and the spade, go together, and agriculture will flourish; the avenues to legitimate commerce will be opened; confidence between man and man will be inspired; whilst civilization will advance as the natural effect, and Christianity operate as the proximate cause of this happy change Buxton, , p. The global institutions that today fund and play a significant role in defining and shaping international development policy and practice are a legacy of the colonial missionary era.

Some organizations have direct heritage from this era, and have Christian roots. For instance, while Oxfam has Quaker origins Black, and the Red Cross Calvinist ones Forsythe, , others take their starting point and motivation from a belief in the spread of Western modernity, itself having Christian roots.

What I am presenting here is a history of the Christian roots of global development institutions and practices that emerged after the Second World War, but which had their origins in the colonial period. While other religious traditions have also helped shaped conceptions of development in different settings and in supporting social welfare and played a strong role in this respect during pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras they are not a focus of this paper.

The end of the Second World War marked the beginning of the next phase of engagement between religions and global development institutions, in which there was a gradual fragmentation of these organisations' working relationships into separately pursued secular and religious development activities.

This included, particularly in Western nations, a declining profile for faith actors in terms of strongly publicly supported and recognized service provision, where they faced a new social, political and economic landscape that served to redefine their role both at home and abroad.

This type of explicit Christian articulation and conceptualization did, however, all but disappear in the following decades. We can see a similar pattern on the international stage, where change was also occuring for the churches and their foreign missions.

As with the domestic work that churches were able to do in Britain, the Second World War had a negative impact on mainline church missionaries overseas. Moreover, this was happening in settings where colonialism was waning and the nature of foreign mission shifting, with indigenous-led churches and movements for conversion starting to emerge Keyes, , p.

However, the lessening of the hold of religion on emerging global development intuitions was more of a gradual than a sudden change. However, after spelling this out in modernist and scientific language, he then turned to religion, invoking the Biblical Sermon on the Mount 'Our allies are the millions who hunger and thirst after righteousness' Truman, , cf. Matthew , one of the two Biblical texts he had rested his hand on when taking the oath of office.

Moreover, he closed with:. To that end we will devote our strength, our resources, and our firmness of resolve. These were the means for delivering the new development agenda already underway and rehearsed by Truman in his inaugural speech. However, even here we find vestiges of a religious underpinning. Carette demonstrates that the UN has a colonial legacy, employs imperialistic discourses and is built on Judeo-Christian foundations ; Carrette and Miall, While these multilateral institutions comprise the first layer of global development institutions, a second layer is comprised by the development and humanitarian donor agencies of individual states e.

However, these are secular institutions that employ scientific and rationalistic logic and approaches to governance and aid provision. A third layer of global development institutions is located in civil society and includes the NGO sector. It is here that we also find NGOs that have a faith basis, which have become more powerful voices in civil society in the last couple of decades. Since the s we have seen a growth in global civil society and a rise in NGOs and other community-based organizations which increasingly play a role in this broader development bricolage, as resistance against the contradictions in the mainstream development model but also as facilitators of it through engagement in the UN, for instance, as well as being in receipt of funds from donors for which they are accountable.

The final layer is the private sector, where businesses or foundations set up from the profits of businesses are increasingly becoming funders of development and facilitators of poverty reduction. By the s a critique began to appear of the marginalization of religion in development institutions from both faith groups and academics, reflecting broader shifts within the sociology of religion where the secularization thesis was beginning to be reappraised Shiner, ; Martin, ; Greeley, The publication of a special issue of the journal World Development on the topic of religion bucks the trend.

Not only was religion largely absent in the programmes of donors and NGOs, but also within development studies. This confirms that something has changed, and that religion is now a serious topic for development studies, suggesting in turn that it has become more relevant for development policy and practice at the level of global institutions.

An emphasis on human development and a broader conception of how to achieve poverty reduction was clearly reflected in the UN Millennium Development Goals MDGs : eight international development goals that all United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations agreed to achieve by As the s marched on, we increasingly saw faith groups responding to the MDGs and global development institutions courting their input into achieving them.

There was a much stronger message from the global development intuitions that if the MDGs were to succeed, there needed to be greater involvement of people and organizations, including those that are faith-based Haynes, , p.

These are 17 goals that were established in following the largest civil society consultation ever held by the UN, and a greater coordinated effort from within the UN to engage with civil society actors, including those of faith, as they come into play, including the setting up of the UN inter-agency task force on engaging faith-based actors for sustainable development Karam, , ; Dodds et al.

Rather than disappearing or completely diminishing in significance, religion continues to exist alongside modernizing and globalizing processes, often adapting and even intensifying in response to changing social, economic and political environments.

Moreover, there are many setting within which religion has not withered away and died, and continues to play a role alongside development, nor is it necessarily antithetical to development and progress in these settings.

For example, Pentecostalism and its prosperity gospel suggest a significant role for religion in Latin America and Africa in boosting economic success and poverty reduction. While this factor is an important one to this debate, there is also concrete evidence that, overall, religion has not disappeared in the way that it was predicted to.

A space appears to have opened in civil society for a greater participation of some faith actors in development, where secular institutors now recognize that faith actors are there and some faith actors have learnt how to engage with the discourse of development and to situate themselves so as to have an impact.

However, what does this mean for the apparent processes of secularization? In order to advance my argument, it is necessary to introduce some nuance into the discussion of the implications of the resurgence of religion for secularization theory.

The idea of the move towards a total desecularization masks the fact that instead of societies and institutions no longer being secular, what we are faced with is the co-existence of secular discourses alongside religious discourses, with some places where those secular discourses are stronger and other places where the religious has a firmer influence.

To bring more subtlety into the debate, drawing upon the work of the sociologist of religion Casanova, I argue that secularization is multidimensional, consisting of three possible types of secularizing processes: differentiation i.

He argues that the other types of secularization differentiation and the decline of individual religious belief and affiliation have occurred, so talking about desecularization only makes sense with respect to the deprivatization of religion Casanova, I suggest that this analysis can be further refined by reflecting upon whether and which type of secularization has occurred at different interrelated levels of society—the macro, meso and micro-levels—and to apply this to our analysis of the engagement between religion and global development actors and institutions.

In terms of sociological analysis, the macro-level refers to national and global systems, and includes states and multilateral organizations involved in global development policy and practice.

The meso-level is the level of national, regional and international associations, organizations and movements which play a role in shaping social, cultural and political concerns. Finally, the micro-level is where one finds the individual, in interaction with others in families and communities, and includes more proximate local organizations, including smaller civil society organizations and places of worship, often playing a key role in development and humanitarian activities see Fig.

Desecularization of development? This figure develops Fig. Macro-level secularization, in the sense of differentiation, has occurred in many nation states worldwide, particularly in the Global North, as well as at the level of the broader environment of global institutions, such as those focusing on development and global economic processes see Fig.

Edited by Atalia Omer, R. Scott Appleby, and David Little

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Chapter 3 Religion in Secularized and Post-Secularized Europe

Did the empowering of new forms of rationality in Western culture beginning around lead necessarily to the reduction or privatization of faith? Smith traces a major line in the history of theology and the philosophy of religion down the "slippery slope" of secularization—from Luther and Erasmus, through Idealism, to Nietzsche, Heidegger, and contemporary theory such as that of Derrida, Habermas, Vattimo, and Asad. At the same time, Smith points to the persistence of a tradition that grew out of the Reformation and continues in the mostly Protestant philosophical reflection on whether and how faith can be justified by reason.

Religions, poverty reduction and global development institutions

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3 comments

  • Eloise C. 30.05.2021 at 01:32

    One of the central crises of Europe is the duality religious-secular.

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  • Avril R. 31.05.2021 at 13:26

    The discourse ethicist encounters the chief doctrinaire of the Roman Catholic Church for an academic dispute on the 'pre-political foun- dations of a liberal state'.

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