Is secularization a necessary consequence of the rise of the modern world, or of civilisational progress in general?

Essay, 2011
14 Pages, Grade: 2,1



In the following essay I want to start with some statistics and graphics, just to have an overview about the topic and about what religious groups and people we are talking, when discussing the problem of secularization.

The next step will be, that I try to define different catchwords using all the time. I’m going to answer questions like: What is meant by secularization? Which effects and historical phases were crucial? How much influence has globalization on the process of secularism? And in the end: does secularization mean, that religion disappear?

To reach the answers, I’m using different attitudes and theses of several authors and compare them with each others. Finally there are two main standpoints: modernization and secularization dues to a displacement of religion and second, religion is changing in social life, but it never loses it impact on people.

Concluding I want to give up my own statement and try to come to a facit.

Graphics and statistics:

As you can see, the main religion in Ireland is ‘Roman Catholic’ with 86.8% of the Irish population, followed by 4.4% of ‘No religion’ and 3.0% of ‘Church of Ireland’ (incl.Protestant).1

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Religious Denomination world wide:

Most striking point: Christians are denominating the most in the whole word. resource: Britannica Online (2007)/ Wikipedia2

The rate of leaving denomination in Germany:

As you can see: Since 2006 the leaving rate is increasing slightly, but the trend till 2006 was a decreasing one.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten4

Different definitions:

(1) Definition sociology of religion:5

I chose this definition first, because I think it is important to have classification in which category of sociology we are.

“The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes.6 There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that it does not set out to assess the validity of religious beliefs, though the process of comparing multiple conflicting dogmas may require what Peter L. Berger has described as inherent "methodological atheism.”7

(2) Definition ofsecularism:

Secularism has its origin in the latin language (Saeculum) and means: time, age or century. All in all it belongs to every single form of secularization.

“While the term "secularism" was first coined by the British writer George Holyoake in 1846, it has since come to denote the general concept of separating religion from other aspects of social life, and particularly from the governmental sphere.”8

(3) Definition of resacralization:

This term is often used in the context with secularization.

“Resacralization is the return of religious meanings to public sectors of social life such as politics, the arts, and the body, and the resistance ofsecularization. This is consistent with Berger's (1967) definition ofsecularization as the removal ofreligious meaningsfrom public life, or privatization. Another possible definition of resacralization would be the growing

realization that the separation between public and private spheres is itself a cultural construction of modern society.”9

(4) Definition of globalization:

Again one of the main catchwords having a strong conjunction with the development ofsecularization:

“Globalization (orglobalisation) describes the process bywhich regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a global network of political ideas through communication, transportation, and trade. The term is most closely associated with the term economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, the spread of technology, and military presence.10 However, globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination ofeconomic, technological, sociocultural, political, and biological factors.11 The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation. An aspect of the world which has gone through the process can be said to be globalized.”12

The origin ofSecularization and different attitudes:

In the following I want to go more into deep about what is meant by using the word ‘secularization’. Sommerville is giving different perspectives and levels. To understand those levels, I tried to give a historical overview, which help to understand the reason for secularization. After this I come to the present and how secularization has developed in the 20th century - with the help of Dr. Rainer Hering.

John Sommerville outlined six uses of the term ‘secularization’:13

(1) differentiation: a process in which the various aspects of society, economy and politics - legal and moral - become specialized and distinct from one another (macro social structure)



2 http://upload.wikimedia.Org/wikipedia/en/7/79/Relig-ire-2006.PNG




6 Christiano (2008)

7 Berger (1967)

8 http ://en. wikip S eparation_o f_church_and_state# Secularism

9 http ://en. wikip

10 Bhagwati (2004)

11 Croucher (2004): p.10.

12 http ://en. wikip Globalization

13 Sommerville (1998): p.249-253.

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Is secularization a necessary consequence of the rise of the modern world, or of civilisational progress in general?
University College Cork
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Discuss the problem in the context of the classical theory of secularization, and current arguments about the process of ‘desecularization’ or ‘re-sacralisation’.
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MA Soziologie Gabriele Beyer (Author), 2011, Is secularization a necessary consequence of the rise of the modern world, or of civilisational progress in general?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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