• Secularization


    • External video
      John Brooke, Ronald Numbers & Lawrence Principe discuss "Science and Secularization", 2012, Chemical Heritage Foundation

      Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions. The secularization thesis refers to the belief that as societies progress, particularly through modernization and rationalization, religion loses its authority in all aspects of social life and governance. The term secularization is also used in the context of the lifting of the monastic restrictions from a member of the clergy.

      Secularization refers to 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. In secularized societies faith lacks cultural authority, and religious organizations have little social power.

      Secularization has many levels of meaning, both as a theory and a historical process. Social theorists such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim, postulated that the modernization of society would include a decline in levels of religiosity. Study of this process seeks to determine the manner in which, or extent to which religious creeds, practices and institutions are losing social significance. Some theorists argue that the secularization of modern civilization partly results from our inability to adapt broad ethical and spiritual needs of mankind to the increasingly fast advance of the physical sciences.

      The term also has additional meanings, primarily historical and religious. Applied to church property, historically it refers to the seizure of monastic lands and buildings, such as Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries in England and the later acts during the French Revolution as well as by various anti-clerical European governments during the 18th and 19th centuries, which resulted in the expulsion and suppression of the religious communities which occupied them. The 19th-century Kulturkampf in Germany and similar events in many other countries also were expressions of secularization.

      religion with God relegated to the background, the stress on everyday actions....Belief in standards of behaviour...a philosophy rather than a theology, a coherent way of life rather than a faith.
      • 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.
      • Berger, Peter. The Sacred Canopy. (1967)
      • Berger, Peter. The Desecularization of the World. (1999)
      • Brown, Callum G. The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000 (2009).
      • Bruce, Steve, and Tony Glendinning, "When was secularization? Dating the decline of the British churches and locating its cause" British journal of sociology 61#1 (2010): 107-126.
      • Bruce, Steve. Religion in the Modern World: From Cathedrals to Cults
      • Bruce, Steve. God is Dead: Secularization in the West. (2002)
      • Casanova, Jose. Public Religions in the Modern World. (1994)
      • Chaves, M. Secularization As Declining Religious Authority. Social Forces 72(3):749–74. (1994)
      • Ellul, Jacques. The New Demons.
      • Gauchet, Marcel. The Disenchantment of the World. (1985/tr. 1997)
      • Gilbert, Alan D. The making of post-Christian Britain: a history of the secularization of modern society (Longman, 1980).
      • Martin, David. A General Theory of Secularization. (New York: Harper & Row, 1979).
      • Sommerville, C. J. "Secular Society Religious Population: Our Tacit Rules for Using the Term Secularization. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37#2 :249–53. (1998)
      • Said, E. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. London: Penguin. (1978).
      • Skolnik, Jonathan and Peter Eli Gordon, eds., New German Critique 94 (2005) Special Issue on Secularization and Disenchantment
      • Stark, Rodney, Laurence R. Iannaccone, Monica Turci, and Marco Zecchi. "How Much Has Europe Been Secularized?" Inchiesta 32 #136 pp:99–112. (2002)
      • Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. (Harvard University Press, 2007)
      • Warrier, Maya. "Processes of Secularisation in Contemporary India: Guru Faith in the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission," Modern Asian Studies (2003)
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    • Secularization