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Secularization: An Analysis at Three Levels

Second Printing

Series:

Karel Dobbelaere

In an epoch in which religion has explicitly and sometimes violently returned to the forefront of the global public scene, the process of secularization that has fundamentally marked Western and particularly European societies demands attention and analysis. This book, written from a sociological perspective, takes up that challenge.
The author distinguishes three levels of secularization. Societal secularization which is a typical consequence of the processes of modernity, and of programmes of «laïcisation» promoted by political parties. Individual secularization that is manifested in the decline of church commitment; occurring as individuals re-compose their personal beliefs and practices in a «religion à la carte»; and as the individual's meaning system becomes compartmentalized and religion is separated from other areas of life. A third level, organizational secularization, covers the incidence of the adaptation of religious bodies to secularized society.
The entire work is marked by meticulous description and analysis of numerous theoretical and empirical studies, and by due recognition of the intricate relationship between levels of secularization and the impact of various actors in the many conflicts over religion's roles.

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Series Editor’s Presentation ............................................................... 11 by Gabriel Fragnière Preface .................................................................................................. 13 PART I. SECULARIZATION: A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CONCEPT Introduction ......................................................................................... 17 Chapter 1. Theories of Secularization ............................................... 29 Societal Secularization ..................................................................... 29 Organizational Secularization .......................................................... 35 Individual Secularization ................................................................. 38 Chapter 2. Societal Secularization ..................................................... 45 The Historical “Base-Line”.............................................................. 45 The Definition of Religion ............................................................... 49 The Integration of Society ............................................................... 52 Societal Secularization: A Mechanical, Straightforward Evolutionary Process?...................................................................... 61 Theoretical Lines of Analysis .......................................................... 82 Other Approaches to the Process of Societal Secularization............ 96 Chapter 3. Organizational Secularization ....................................... 105 Religious Change and Organizational Secularization .................... 105 Societal Secularization and Religious Change............................... 117 Chapter 4. The Process of Declining Religious Involvement and Individual Secularization .................................... 137 The Comfort Thesis........................................................................ 137 The Secularization Thesis .............................................................. 140 10 The “Secularization Thesis” and Some Other Theories ................. 146 The “Secularization Thesis”, “Invisible Religion”, and “Alternative Meaning Systems” .............................................. 148 Conclusions.................................................................................... 153 Chapter 5. Conclusions ..................................................................... 157 PART II SECULARIZATION: THE THREE LEVELS AND THEIR INTERRELATEDNESS Presentation........................................................................................ 163 Chapter 1. The Interrelatedness of Societal and Individual Secularization..................................................................................... 165 The Secularization Process: A Partial Recapitulation .................... 165 Studying the Effect of Societal Secularization on Individual Religiosity ...................................................................................... 167 Compartmentalization .................................................................... 169 The Causal Link between Church Commitment and Compartmentalization .................................................................... 170 Chapter 2. Individual Secularization ............................................... 173 Chapter 3. Bringing the Actors Back In ......................................... 181 Chapter 4. Epilogue........................................................................... 189 Societal and Individual Secularization: A Relationship................. 189 Organizational Secularization and Sacralization............................ 190 Pluralism: Secularization and Rational Choice Theories ............... 193 References .......................................................................................... 197

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