� Before there was social science there were social philosophers who believed that the age of reason and the birth of science to be incompatable with religion.
� As reason and science advance, they argued, religion will receed from public life and perhaps disappear all together.
� Many scholars believed that human societies had passed through developmental stages which were broadly characterized as:
� This developmental model effectively forecasts that human societies will outgrow the need for religion. Science and rational thought will dominate human beings' understanding of their world. Rodney Stark and William S. Bainbridge capture the essence of this kind of thinking in the first paragraph of their book The Future of Religion:
� The underlying assumptions of secularization theory:
� Some social scientists celebrated the disappearance of religions; for others is was a matter of considerable concern.
� Few questioned the presupposition that religion would receed and eventually disappear
To secularize is to:
"...a process of
transfer of property, power, activities, and both manifest and latent
functions, from institutions with a supernatural frams of reference
to (often new) institutions operating according to empirical,
rational, pragmatic criteria."
Secularization and Modernization
� Their goal was to explain what was happening and why.
� Much of their theorizing can be incorporated under what came to be known as a theory of modernization.
� The basic components of a theory of modernization are presented and then we show how it is related to secularization.
The process wherein human cultures have been transformed from simple to complex societies.
Implicitly, modernism is a rejection of things modern.
What does it mean not to be modern?
Does it imply rejectoin of the sacred.
Dimensions of Modernization:
Dimensions of Secularization:
Further, these processes my not move in concert.
In sociological language, these three processes may be broken down as follows:
the cognitive dimension of secularization refers to: rationalization;
the institutional to differentiation, and
the behavioral to privatization
What is the evidence for secularization?
� No question that the modern world has alterned our thinking abou god and the universe;
� The Enlightenment gave us a mechanical view of God; the master craftsman who built the universe and then set it in motion
� In time, science and rationality created a mood of thinking that denied the palusibility of God....religion is no longer a tenable hypothesis in the modern.
� But the Reformation set in motion another image of God -- a personal God.
� No question that the modern world hasseen a significant decline in the dmoniance of religious institutions...
Skyscrapers, sports arenas, museums, and bridges have replaced the great cathedrals and temples than once dominated human cultures. There are few architectual achievements of the 20th century that are religious in character.
� Corporate structures and the secular political state appear as the locus of power and authority in the modern world.
� For most of the 20th century, Europe, a seemingly highly secularized continent, was considered the harbinger of religious behavior in the modern world. The United States, with its relatively high levels of religious participation and profession of belief, was considered the anomoly. The concept "cultural lag" was often employed to account for the fact that America did not parallel the highly secularized Europe.
� In spite of the appearance of overwhelming evidence for the secularization thesis, the past quarter-of-a-century has begun to produce a wide array of evidence which challenges this taken-for-granted position. This evidence is both historial and contemporary. To date, much of the evidence is limited to North America, but there is growing evidence from around the globe to support the challenge to secularization theory.
[Materials presented here represent only a summary of evidence presented in class lecture as well as assigned and recommended readings].
Trends in American Religion
� Belief in God
� Church membership
� Church attendence
� Personal devotion
� Financial contributions
*Public opinion polling has only existed for about sixty years. Much of the archived literature is difficult to assess because different methodologies and different sampling techniques do not make the date directly comparable. Nevertheless, a careful examination of data fail to demonstrate a secularization trend (i.e. decline in indicators of religious belief and participation) in the U.S. Overall, most indicators are amazing stable.
For one assessment of polling data, see: Hadden, J.K. "Toward Desacralizing Secularization Theory," Social Forces (March, 1987)
Summary of Other Evidence Challenges the Secularization Paradigm
� Kelley thesis: Why Conservative Churches Are Growing
� Carpenter on evangelicals
� Religion and Civil Rights
� Finke and Stark on religion in American History
A long held assumption of American history is that the founders of this nation were very religious people; only gradually have be become a more secular culture. The data presented by Finke and Stark in their pioneering book reveals quite a different interpretation of American religious history. Perhaps key leaders were religious, but the evidence indicates that religious adherents constituted a small minority. And, further, that adherence has grown throughout American history.
The Religious Economy Theory
Thomas Kuhn's classic, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions argued that paradigm shifts are proceeded by the accumulation of evidence which challenges the existing taken-for-granted theoretical model.
� Secularization theory was the dominant theoretical view of religion in the modern world for most of the 20th century. The last quarter of a the 20th century has seen mounting evidence that challenges this theory.
� In 1993 Stephen Warner published a lengthly essay in a leading sociological journal which openly pronounced the emergence of a new paradign in the sociology of religion. In this article, Warner wrote:
"The emerging paradigm begins with the theoretical reflectoin on a fact of U.S. history highly inconvenient to secularization theory: the proportion of the population enrolled in churches grew hugely throughout the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, which,by any measure, were times of rapid modernization."
� Secularization theory is a long way from being discarded by social scientists of religion, but it is now being openly challenged by many scholars. The challenges come from many directions, but a lending intellectual perspective has been identified as a theory of religious economy This perspective provides much of the intellectual foundation for studying cults and sects as the dynamic forces through which religion is renewed in human cultures.
Theory of Religious Economy v Secularization.
The theory of religious economy (also referred to as rational choice theory, or the "new paradigm") does not deny that secularization is a powerful force in the modern world.
Rather, the new paradigm argues that secularization theory does not adequately explain what has happen in the modern era.
Scholars of the new paradigm attribute the growth of religious affiliation in the U.S. to the disestablishment clause of the Constitution.
By radically separating church and state, religious pluralism is encouraged.
In a pluralistic environment, the different religious traditions compete with each other for constituents (members).
In cultures where one religious group has a monopoly, religion experiences enthropy.
In a competitive religious economy, some firms (deonominations/churches) fare well, others fail to renew and lose ground).
The religious economy is invigorated in two important ways:
sectarian movements: splintering from established religious group create renewal that is generated from within (endogenous);
cultic movements: a radical departure from established religious traditions within a given religious economy. Cult movements come about as a result of one of three things: (1) importing of new religious ideas from outside the culture, (2) invention by those within a culture tradition, or (3) radical departure of established traditions
Warner ammased much evidence developed by sociologists, historians and economists for in support of the new paradigm. His argument for the new paradigm is cautious in exporting the thesis beyond the boundaries of the North American experience.
Others have made the case for global application. Hadden, responding to the narrow focus of Warner's paper, summarizes evidence regardomg five major religious movements which together argue for a global application of the theory. Each of these developments has global dimensions and gloval implications. Each movement challanges the efficacy of secularization theory, i.e., secularization theory cannot explain them. Each movement can at least partially be accounted for by the theory of religious economy. There movements are as follows:
Liberation Theology Movements
Religious Movements in Post-Communists Societies.
(Read Mr. Hadden's article for an elaboration of this evidence)
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