Secularization perspectives are varied, but in general there are three levels upon which secularization is theorized to occur see Tschannen Another source of contention is whether all three levels of secularization are necessarily linked together or whether processes at one level may occur without those at another. Yet there has never been a single theory of secularization.
Background[ edit ] Secularization is sometimes credited both to the cultural shifts in society following the emergence of rationality Secularization thesis of religion the development of science as a substitute for superstition — Max Weber called this process the "disenchantment of the world"—and to the changes made by religious institutions to compensate.
At the most basic stages, this begins with a slow transition from oral traditions to a writing culture that diffuses knowledge. This first reduces the authority of clerics as the custodians of revealed knowledge. As the responsibility for education has moved from the family and community to the statetwo consequences have arisen: Collective conscience as defined by Durkheim is diminished Fragmentation of communal activities leads to religion becoming more a matter of individual choice rather than an observed social obligation.
A major issue in the study of secularization is the extent to which certain trends such as decreased attendance at places of worship indicate a decrease in religiosity or simply a privatization of religious belief, where religious beliefs no longer play a dominant role in public life Secularization thesis of religion in other aspects of decision making.
The issue of secularization is discussed in various religious traditions. The government of Turkey is an often cited[ by whom?
This established popular sovereignty in a secular republican framework, in opposition to a system whose authority is based on religion. As one of many examples of state modernization, this shows secularization and democratization as mutually reinforcing processes[ citation needed ], relying on a separation of religion and state.
In expressly secular states like Indiait has been argued[ by whom? Considerations of both tolerance and autonomy are relevant to any secular state. John Sommerville outlined six uses of the term secularization in the scientific literature.
The first five are more along the lines of 'definitions' while the sixth is more of a 'clarification of use': When discussing individual institutions, secularization can denote the transformation of a religious into a secular institution.
Examples would be the evolution of institutions such as Harvard University from a predominantly religious institution into a secular institution with a divinity school now housing the religious element illustrating differentiation.
When discussing activities, secularization refers to the transfer of activities from religious to secular institutions, such as a shift in provision of social services from churches to the government. When discussing mentalities, secularization refers to the transition from ultimate concerns to proximate concerns.
This is a personal religious decline or movement toward a secular lifestyle. When discussing populations, secularization refers to broad patterns of societal decline in levels of religiosity as opposed to the individual-level secularization of 4 above.
This understanding of secularization is also distinct from 1 above in that it refers specifically to religious decline rather than societal differentiation. When discussing religion, secularization can only be used unambiguously to refer to religion in a generic sense.
For example, a reference to Christianity is not clear unless one specifies exactly which denominations of Christianity are being discussed.
Abdel Wahab Elmessiri outlined two meanings of the term secularization: Sociological use and differentiation[ edit ] As studied by sociologists, one of the major themes of secularization is that of "differentiation"—i.
European sociology, influenced by anthropologywas interested in the process of change from the so-called primitive societies to increasingly advanced societies.
In the United States, the emphasis was initially on change as an aspect of progress, but Talcott Parsons refocused on society as a system immersed in a constant process of increased differentiation, which he saw as a process in which new institutions take over the tasks necessary in a society to guarantee its survival as the original monolithic institutions break up.
This is a devolution from single, less differentiated institutions to an increasingly differentiated subset of institutions. Casanova also describes this as the theory of "privatization" of religion, which he partially criticizes.
In his works Legitimacy of the Modern Age and The Genesis of the Copernican WorldHans Blumenberg has rejected the idea of a historical continuity — fundamental the so-called 'theorem of secularization'; the Modern age in his view represents an independent epoch opposed to Antiquity and the Middle Ages by a rehabilitation of human curiosity in reaction to theological absolutism.
Proponents of "secularization theory" demonstrate widespread declines in the prevalence of religious belief throughout the West, particularly in Europe.
Demerath have countered by introducing the idea of neo-secularization, which broadens the definition of secularization to include the decline of religious authority and its ability to influence society.
In other words, rather than using the proportion of irreligious apostates as the sole measure of secularity, neo-secularization argues that individuals increasingly look outside of religion for authoritative positions. Neo-secularizationists would argue that religion has diminishing authority on issues such as birth controland argue that religion's authority is declining and secularization is taking place even if religious affiliation may not be declining in the United States a debate still taking place.
This is especially the case in societies like Israel with the ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionists where committed religious groups have several times the birth rate of seculars.
The religious fertility effect operates to a greater or lesser extent in all countries, and is amplified in the West by religious immigration.
For instance, even as native whites became more secular, LondonEngland, has become more religious in the past 25 years as religious immigrants and their descendants have increased their share of the population. Christian Smith examined the secularization of American public life between and He noted that in a Protestant establishment thoroughly dominated American culture and its public institutions.
By the turn of the 20th century, however, positivism had displaced the Baconian method which had hitherto bolstered natural theology and higher education had been thoroughly secularized. In the s "legal realism" gained prominence, de-emphasizing the religious basis for law. That same decade publishing houses emerged that were independent of the Protestant establishment.
During the s secularization extended into popular culture and mass public education ceased to be under Protestant cultural influence. Although the general public was still highly religious during this time period, by the old Protestant establishment was in "shambles".secularization thesis the social significance of religion has declined in the face of modernity.
Most endorsers of this do not predict the disappearance of religion, only its declining influence on social life. Secularization is a term used by sociologists to refer to a process by which the overarching and transcendent religious system of old is reduced in modern functionally differentiated societies to a subsystem alongside other subsystems, losing in this process its .
Starks third argument is that in all versions of the thesis the claim that “of all aspects of modernization, it is science that has the most deadly implications for religion”. Fourthly, Secularization is irreversible. The secularisation thesis – the idea that traditional religions are in terminal decline in the industrialised world – was perhaps the central debate in the sociology of religion in the second half of the 20th century.
The decline of religion and belief - is this really happening? Academics can be found asking "is the situation best captured by secularization theory, or by the notion On p of his book on new religious movements says "the weight of evidence seems to favour the general thesis that religion is so psychologically and socially bound up.
Secularization does not imply the disappearance of religion as such but is the process whereby religious thinking, practices and institutions lose their significance for the operation of the social system.