Patterns and Processes of Religious Change in Modern Industrial Societies. Europe and the United States

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This book addresses the central debates about religious change in advanced industrial societies. The contributors, among them some of the best known sociologists of religion in Britain, the United States and continental Europe, present a wide range of opinions on the central question of whether the overriding characteristic of religious change in modern industrial societies is decline, persistence or transformation. It includes proponents of the two main paradigms in the sociology of religion: the traditional paradigm of secularization theory, and the ‘new’ paradigm of ‘rational choice’ and ‘supply-side’ theory. Many of the chapters contain highly sophisticated, yet simply presented, analyses of the best available empirical data from current and historical social surveys in western and eastern Europe (including Russia) and the United States.


“The theme of this collection of essays carries the implication that religion and modernity stand juxtaposed, if not as opposites, then at least as representative of contrary influences. Not inappropriately, since it is rooted in the past, inherited religion is bracketed together with tradition. It is reverenced by the authorities, not least because it sacralizes those values and dispositions that are thought to be guarantors of group or national identity. Yet despite the sanctity which attaches to it; despite the patina of antiquity with which it is invested; despite its claim to possess ultimate competence to legitimize all other pursuits and procedures – religion is, nonetheless, generally perceived as vulnerable, in particular to the impulses of modernity ”- (From The Commendatory Preface) Dr. Bryan Wilson, All Souls College, Oxford

“This volume offers a rare opportunity for weighing up the arguments about secularization that have been raging for decades. The contributors, all of whom are distinguished social scientists, present a wide range of opinions on the central question of whether religion is declining or merely undergoing transformation…..The array of robust statistical data supporting the arguments is particularly impressive…..Contributors pull no punches: the writing is lively and direct….Specialists in religious studies, sociology of religion and modern history will find this volume an indispensable guide to current debates and the state of scholarly knowledge about religious change. It is a well-balanced and authoritative collection of essays that go to the heart of complex and contested issues. This is the new benchmark for work on secularization.” – Professor James Beckford, University of Warwick

“The papers in this collection address a key problem in sociology: how and why does modernity affect religion? The editors – rising stars themselves – have brought together important contributions from stellar figures in the field. The product is social science at its best, with studies based on testable theory and theoretically-driven investigation. Everyone interested in understanding religion (in the last century or in the next) will want to own this book.” – Dr. David Voas, University of Manchester

Table of Contents

Table of Contents: Acknowledgements, Preface
The Contributors:
1. Introduction: The Empirically Informed Study of Religious Change (Alasdair Crockett and Richard O’Leary) 2. Churchgoing Rates in Nineteenth-Century England: Supply-Side Deficiency or Demand-Led Decline? (Alasdair Crockett) 3. The Denominational Society of the USA: A Reappraisal (Mike Hout and Melissa J. Wilde) 4. Leaving the Church in The Netherlands: A Comprehensive Explanation of Three Empirical Regularities (Nan Dirk De Graaf, Ariana Need and Wout Ultee) 5. Religious Intermarriage and Modernization in Ireland (Richard O’Leary) 6. Religion in Modernity (Karel Dobeelaere) 7. A Religious Revival in Europe? (Andrew Greeley) 8. Religious Mobility in Post-Communist Eastern Europe (Ariana Need and Geoffrey Evans) 9. From Sacred Canopy to Consumable Condiment: The Marginalization of Religion in the West (C.Kirk Hadaway) 10. The Social Organization of Diffuse Beliefs and the Future of Cultic Religion (Steve Bruce) 11. The Future of Western Churchgoing (Robin Gill)
Bibliography, Index

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