Sociology Index -


Secularization is the process of organizing society or aspects of social life around non-religious values or principles.

Secularization is linked closely to Max Weber's concept of a growing ‘disenchantment of the world’ as the sphere of the magical, sacred and religious retreats in cultural significance before the driving force of rationalization of culture and social institutions powered by emergent capitalism.

Sociologists and Secularization: Controversy about the process of secularization has consituted the centrepiece of the sociology of religion.

The major sections of the paper are concern the explication of the terms in which the secularization controversy has developed among sociologists and sociologically-inclined theologians.

Enforced Secularization - Spontaneous Revival? Religious Belief, Unbelief, Uncertainty and Indifference in East and West European Countries 1991–1998 Secularization. - Heiner Meulemann - Universität zu Köln, European Sociological Review 20:47-61 (2004)

The degree of secularization should increase belief against the three remaining options, unbelief against uncertainty and indifference, and uncertainty against indifference. The paper asks if the enforced form of secularization of East European countries has the same effects even if the degree of secularization is controlled, and if these developments are reversed after the demise of communism. In 1991, the degree and the form of secularization affect the answers to the religious question as expected. Up to 1998, the effects of the degree and the form of secularization persist. The effects of the degree and the form of secularization do not shrink if education and age of individuals are controlled, and do shrink but remain significant if additionally religious practice is controlled.

Education and Secularization: Taking Philosophy of Education Seriously - E.P. Brandon
Caribbean Journal of Education, 19, 227-238 (1997) Secularization.

Abstract: (a) educational activity, as against perversions or distortions of education, must leave space for the possibility of there being good reasons for what it presents for acceptance by a learner; (b) necessarily religious views cannot be acquired without a "leap of faith" - i.e. accepting something for which there is no good reason; so (c) if we restricted ourselves to educational activity in bringing up the young we would soon find ourselves in a purely secular world.

Secularization of Public Administration - Thomas D. Lynch, Richard Omdal and Peter L. Cruise 
Louisiana State University, Golden Gate University 
This article examines the history of values in public administration research and questions secularization with its removal of linkage between spiritual wisdom and public values. That public administration should not narrow its choice of values to only secularization but should use the full range of human inquiry available to us, including the various Holy Scriptures from not only the Jewish and Christian traditions but other traditions as well, such as the Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic. - Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 7, No. 3: 473-488 (1997) 

The Catholic Bishops Conferences of the United States and France - Engaging Immigration as a Public Issue 
Margarita Mooney, Princeton University - American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 49, No. 11, (2006)
The secularization paradigm in the social sciences led many scholars to presume that religious organizations no longer had a public role in society.

Secularization and the Role of Religion in State Institutions - Inger Furseth 
Social Compass, Vol. 50, No. 2, 191-202 (2003)
This study concludes that the role of the Church of Norway in military and prison chaplaincies is a clear illustration of the continuing intertwining of religion and state in Norway.

Church attendance in Spain (1930-1992): Gender differences and secularization
Pablo Branas - Garza University of Jaen IESA-CSIC, Spain
Abstract: Time series analysis is performed to examine religious changes in two parallel ways: first, to determine both male and female church-attendance trends and second, to study the gender effect, that is, differences between males and females regarding church attendance.

Is Northern Ireland Abnormal? An Extension of the Sociological Debate on Religion in Modern Britain 
Claire Mitchell, Queen’s University Belfast - Sociology, Vol. 38, No. 2, (2004)
This article measures secularization along Casanova’s three dimensions (1994): religious differentiation, decline and privatization. It finds that Northern Ireland has, in common with Britain, high levels of religious differentiation, grey areas of religious belief and little convinced secularism.

Secularization, Deviance and Delinquency among Israeli Arab Villagers 
S. Giora Shoham, Esther Segal, Giora Rahav 
Human Relations, Vol. 28, No. 7, 661-674 (1975)
Many Israeli Arabs are facing severe culture-conflicts as a consequence of two social processes. There is the increasing frequency of contact with Jews, and there is the process of rapid modernization which involves secularization, disorganization of traditional social structures and changing norms.

‘Losing my religion’: a dynamic analysis of leaving the church in the Netherlands 
Ariana Need and Nan Dirk De Graaf - European Sociological Review 12:87-99 1996
We examine the influence of individual attributes and contextual characteristics (cohort and period effects of secularization) on the risk of leaving a faith, using life-event data from the Dutch Family Survey 1992–1993.
The results show that education, parental education, and marrying a non-religious spouse significantly increase the risk of becoming unchurched. The results suggest a period effect: the current level of secularization increases the risk of becoming unchurched.

James D. Montgomery - Rationality and Society, Vol. 8, No. 1, 81-110 (1996)
A dynamic model of the religious economy. In the model, individuals with higher incomes prefer less strict denominations. If individuals remain within their parents' denominations, intergenerational social mobility may alter denominational class composition, inducing change in denominational strictness.

State Welfare Spending and Religiosity - A Cross-National Analysis 
Anthony Gill, Rationality and Society, Vol. 16, No. 4, 399-436 (2004)
What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance and non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory and the religious economy perspective.

Paracelsus Confronts the Saints: Miracles, Healing and the Secularization of Magic 
CHARLES WEBSTER, All Souls College Oxford - Social History of Medicine 1995 8(3):403-421;
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries witnessed an erosion of the role played by the church in healing. Magical practices mediated by the church were replaced by the resources of medicine. This represented an important cultural development and it is often regarded as a manifestation of increasing secularization, the decline of magic and rise of science. By eliminating the miraculous intervention of saints and promoting the secularization of magic, Paracelsus was contributing to one of the important cultural changes associated with the Reformation.

Medicalization and Secularization: the Jewish Ritual Bath as a Problem of Hygiene (Germany 1820s–1840s) 
THOMAS SCHLICH, Institut für Geschichte der Medizin der Robert Bosch Stiftung Straussweg
Social History of Medicine 1995 8(3):423-442
In the 1820s and 1840s the Jewish Ritual bath in Germany was criticized on the basis of medical arguments. Associated with this critique were demands for a change in the traditional Jewish way of life in general, especially as concerning the Jewish religion. The new role assigned to religion can be seen as part of a process of ‘secularization’. An historical investigation of the debate on the Jewish ritual bath illuminates the way in which medicalization and secularization were different aspects of the same process of the attribution of complementary circumscribed spheres of medicine and religion.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Immigration Issue 
The Relative Secularization of Political Life in Spain 

Xabier Itçaina, CERVL-CNRS, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Bordeaux, France 
American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 49, No. 11, 1471-1488 (2006)
The article provides significant insights into the relative secularization of immigration-related politics in Spain and Southern Europe. Catholic activism indicates that effective withdrawal of the church as a dominant social institution has not signified the demise of its influence on the political scene.

Islam and Secularization 
Zubaida, Sami
Source: Asian Journal of Social Science, Volume 33, Number 3, 2005, pp. 438-448(11)
In nineteenth and the twentieth century thought in institutions in the Middle East, for example, in the fields of law, education, administration and mass culture, there was experienced an irreversible process of change towards secularity. This process was facilitated by the co-existence and intersection of the religious and the secular. The dichotomy of the religious and the secular emerged within popularized fundamentalism, which itself has to be seen as a fruit of the secularization process encouraging religion to turn into a matter of politics and "social engineering".

Meulemann H., University of Cologne - European Societies, Volume 2, Number 2, June 2000.
Uncertainty and indifference are explored as responses to secularization beyond unbelief in Western and Eastern European countries with low and high degrees of secularization. The analysis is guided by three hypotheses. First, secularization should increase unbelief and indifference strongly, but uncertainty less strongly. Second, the self-induced secularization in Western European countries should produce more uncertainty, the enforced secularization in the Eastern European countries more unbelief and indifference. Third, the relation between religiosity and uncertainty should be negative in less secularized and positive in more secularized countries. The range of secularization hypothesis is confirmed for both beliefs on the aggregate as well as the individual level of analysis. However, the form of and the modified secularization hypothesis are conformed for the belief in God only.

Secularization and Aging in Britain: Does Family Formation Cause Greater Religiosity?
James R. Tilley, Nuffield College, Oxford
Using data from the British Election Studies and the British Household Panel Study, this research note examines how family formation factors, such as marriage and childrearing, affect church attendance in Britain. Debates in the United States have centered on how, first, apparent aging effects could be due to family formation or be evidence for cohort differences, and, second, how family formation effects are sex specific.

Secularization and Tolerance
Giorgio Spini1University of Florence, Faculty of Political Science, Via Laura, 48, 50121 Florence, Italy
Abstract: In this paper, starting from Condorcet's discussion on progress, the author analyzes the relationship between the decline of religions, the end of State paternalism and tolerance.

Charles L. Harper is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Creighton University.
Bryan LeBeau currently serves as Chair of the Department of History, Coordinator of the American Studies Program.
In different ways classical social thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th century all thought that religion would either disappear or become progressively attenuated with the expansion of modern institutions, resulting in a "secularization thesis" aptly captured in the title of Freud's famous The Future of an Illusion (see Durkheim, 1912/1965; Freud, 1957; Marx and Engels, 1848/1858; Tylor, 1871; Weber, 1904/1958:182; and Giddens, 1990:207). For those expecting its attenuation to accompany modernization, religion remains surprisingly vibrant and socially salient. It is in parts of Western Europe where individual religiosity has been radically transformed that the secularization thesis seems to work the best.

Secularization, Religiosity, and the United States Constitution 
Christopher L. Eisgruber 
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Summer 2006, Vol. 13, No. 2, Pages 445-472 
This article draws upon leading works in the sociology of religion to assess what I shall call "the secularization claim" regarding the United States. It endeavors, in particular, to clarify the possible meanings of "secularization," and then to use these conceptual refinements to examine what sort of evidence exists that the United States has been secularized. Though it is not possible to falsify every version of the secularization claim, there is little evidence to support it, especially in its most prominent and politically relevant variations.

The Secularization of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Mike Nicol's The Ibis Tapestry 
Michael Titlestad, Mike Kissack 
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Winter 2006, Vol. 37, No. 4, Pages 48-67 
In this article we read Mike Nicol's The Ibis Tapestry (1998) as an intertextual novel that brings a postmodern inflection to its interrogation of the principles and practices of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Using the distant mirror of the life, work, and death of Christopher Marlowe, the novel unravels aspects of the ethical ideology and epistemological framing of the Commission in a way that, we argue, amounts to its secularization.

Is there a Place for the Sacred in Organizations and their Development 
Rajen K. Gupta, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow 
Journal of Human Values, Vol. 2, No. 2, 149-158 (1996)
Secularization of life in general is widely seen as a direct consequence of European enlightenment and the process of modernization. The paper contests this thesis of societal secularization through a historical analysis of ideas in the Anglo-Saxon Christian parts of Europe and North America.

Secularization in a strong religious society: the case of Turkey 
Tahirli, Taleh, Department: Linköping University, Department of Management and Economics 
There is a widespread belief among many researchers that Islam and secularization is incompatible. Obviously, in the Eastern world and in Muslim countries in particular, the problematic relationship between religion and democracy is still shows itself intensively. The current lack of democracy in most Muslim countries derives in part from this mindset contending that Islam is incompatible with secularization. So the application of concept “secularization” to studies of the Muslim countries Middle East has often been more problematic than enlightening. The present study continues the discussion of the compatibility of secularization and Islamic religion bringing to the fore the case of modern Turkish politics.

Is Secularization a Discontinuous Process? 
Daniel Rigney, Richard Machalek, Jerry D. Goodman
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Dec., 1978), pp. 381-387
Wuthnow (1976) contends that secularization in the United States has been a "discontinuous" process marked by dramatic fluctuations in religious commitment. This brief paper undertakes an empirical assessment of the discontinuity thesis. When Wuthnow's indicators of religious commitment are expanded, refined, and reanalyzed, it is not clear that secularization has been discontinuous during this century. The paper concludes with suggestions for further investigation of this emerging issue in secularization theory.

The Case Secularization: A Rebuttal
FRANK J. LECHNER, Emory University 
This article examines the main charges against secularization theory and finds them wanting. Contrary to the recent arguments of various critics, there is a reasonably solid body of secularization theory with valid historical content; secularization cannot be explained away as either institutionalization or transformation; it is neither a self-limiting process nor reversed by fundamentalist movements; and while secularization theory may be of limited use in current macrosociological research on global change, it is as yet far from irrelevant. Until it is more solidly refuted, secularization theory remains a valuable part of the theoretical arsenal of the sociology of religion. 

Secularization as Declining Religious Authority
MARK CHAVES, The University of Notre Dame 
Secularization is most productively understood not as declining religion, but as the declining scope of religious authority. A focus on religious authority is more consistent with recent developments in social theory than is a preoccupation with religion; draws on and develops what is best in the secularization literature; and reclaims a neglected Weberian insight concerning the sociological analysis of religion. 

Individualization, identity formation and the secularization of ethical orientation 
Individualization causes new processes of identity development both on a micro-level (individual) and on a meso-level (organisations, institutions). These processes differ from earlier processes of identity formulations: focusing less on philosophically and theologically elaborated credos and related types of statements, and focusing more on acting, codes of conduct and other concrete issues. Even in churches there is a remarkable shift of focus, from pure theological debates about the final thruth to practical questions.

Religious Advocacy in Secular Society: A Neo-Secularization Perspective
David Yamane, University of Wisconsin-Madison
What is the role of religious advocacy in the legislative process in Wisconsin, and how does the secularity of modern social structure constrain and enable the involvement of religious advocates in that process? An answer to this is pursued in light of current debates over the concept of “secularization” in sociology. The work mounts a defense of a neo-secularization paradigm in which secularization is conceived of not as involving a unidirectional movement toward a decline in religion, but as entailing a double-movement: institutional differentiation causes a decline in the scope of religious authority over the political sphere.

Secularization Troubles: The Sociology of Liberal Protestantism
Christopher Hinkle, Harvard Divinity School
Contemporary resistance among both sociologists and theologians to greater engagement between the disciplines reflects an intellectual differentiation associated with secularization.

The Great Secularization Experiment: An Analysis of Communism's Attempt to Eliminate Religion - Froese, P. 
I provide a comparison of many different cases to create a complex explanation of how different religious groups and historical traditions responded to the religious laws of communism. Crucial to this endeavor is my theoretical framework which seeks to predict when religious and secular ideologies come into conflict and which will prevail.

Trends in de katholieke godsdienstigheid eind 20ste eeuw: België vergeleken met West - en Centraal-Europese landen, Tijdschrift voor Sociologie, 24 (1), 9-36. - Karel Dobbelaere (2003)
Beginning with a description of Belgian trends in weekly mass attendance, participation in rites of passage and acceptance of Catholic beliefs, this essay compares these trends with data from other West-European countries in order to establish whether Belgian trends are particular to that country or are rather similar to trends in other countries. To enable us to explain the trends, two prominent current theories in the sociology of religion, Rational Choice Theory and Secularization Theory, are used to analyse data on Catholics and former Catholics from eleven West European and Central European countries collected in the frame of the Religious and Moral Pluralism study.

The Religious and the Secular: Studies in Secularization by David Martin 
Suzanne Gwiazda, Church History, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Jun., 1970).