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Shopping for Faith or Dropping Your Faith? The Rational Choice Theory of Religion
(Released May 2005)

  by Peter Ellway  


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  1. Defining religion

    Aldridge, Alan

    Sociology Review; 14 (2) Nov 2004, pp.8-9

    Considers why definitions matter to sociologists and why they matter to the people and communities that are being defined using the topic of religion. Using some classical definitions of religion, demonstratesthe significance of definitions when examining evidence relevant to the secularization debate, and the importance of definitions to the process of theorizing. (Original abstract - amended)

  2. Sacred Algorithms: Exchange Theory of Religious Claims

    Bainbridge, William Sims

    Religion and the Social Order, 2003, 10, 21-37

    In work conducted by the author & Rodney Stark since 1979, a "new paradigm theory of religion" (Warner, R. S., 1993) was developed that defined religions as "systems of general compensators based on supernatural assumptions," involving "postulations of reward according to explanations that are not readily susceptible to unambiguous evaluation" (Stark & Bainbridge, 1987). Here, an attempt is made to further elucidate these definitions in the context of an evolutionary theory of religious ideas, ie, one that explains the evolution of religion in a world that "does not in fact contain a supernatural realm." Seven axioms underlying the new paradigm theory of religion are explicated, along with three mutually compatible models of compensator generation; the relationship between compensators & rewards in exchange relations involving religious claims is discussed. The relevance of ideas of natural selection & evolutionary fitness to the concept of religion is also illustrated. It is concluded that religion represents a "sacred algorithm," "logical contradiction," & "necessary falsehood" that nonetheless can be a valid subject of scientific research. 51 References. K. Hyatt Stewart.

  3. Rationality, choice, and the religious economy: individual and collective rationality in supply and demand

    Bankston, Carl L

    Review of Religious Research; 45 (2) Dec 2003, pp.155-171

    One of the most useful contributions of rational choice theories to the sociology of religion has been the concept of the religious economy. However, this study argues that the rational choice view of the religious economy still suffers from serious shortcomings. Here, I argue that the concept of rationality in economic action is more complex thanrational choice theorists generally recognize. Part of this complexity involves the multi-dimensional nature of the concept and part of it involves the fact that degrees of rationality in individual actions must be understood in relation to collective actions and contexts. One of the consequences of the underdeveloped understanding of rationality is that theorists have tended to gloss over the processes by which individuals and groups make decisions that create demands for specific types of religious goods. I attempt to approach these problem by describing the dimensions of rationality, by describing the relations betweenrationality at the individual level and at aggregate levels, and by providing a schematization to suggest how supply of religious goods anddemand for them interact at individual and collective levels. (Original abstract)

  4. Rationality, Choice and the Religious Economy: The Problem of Belief

    Bankston, Carl L

    Review of Religious Research; 43 (4) June 2002, p.311-25

    The concept of the religious economy has been one of the most useful contributions of rational choice theories to the sociology of religion. However, this study argues that religious belief presents a problem for rational choice theories, since it is difficult to see how one can freely choose what one believes to be true in the sense that one can freely choose what consumer products one wishes to purchase. After examining the problem, the study suggests that it may be addressed by thinking of belief as a socially, collaboratively produced good. Given demand for a particular belief, potential religious consumers choose to involve themselves with those who are collectively producing it through interactions of faith. The involvement turns potential religious consumers into actual consumers by enabling them to participate in networks that establish beliefs as true. 1 Figure, 61 References. (Original abstract - amended)

  5. The Myth of Pluralism, Diversity, and Vigor: The Constitutional Privilege of Protestantism in the United States and Canada

    Beaman, Lori G

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2003, 42, 3, Sept, 311-325

    Challenges claims of extensive religious diversity in America to argue that religious choice exists only within a narrow range of products. It is maintained that the "supermarket approach" to the religious marketplace does not indicate religious diversity. Rather, the increasing number of churches simply represents a diversity of style while the hegemony of mainstream Protestantism remains intact. The concepts of religious diversity & religious hegemony in the social science literature are reviewed & the importance of deconstructing the notion of diversity is emphasized by examining immigrant religions that remain on the margin & are viewed as the "other." It is maintained that substantive religious diversity is a measure of religious freedom in a society. An exploration of how the law preserves religious hegemony in the US focuses on four case studies: Native American spirituality; immigrant religions; marginalized Christian groups; & new religious movements. The need to pay greater attention to how mainstream religion contributes to the marginalization of other groups is emphasized. 59 References. J. Lindroth.

  6. Church Commitment and Some Consequences in Western and Central Europe

    Billiet, Jaak; Dobbelaere, Karel; Riis, Ole; Valica, Helena; Voye, Liliane; Welkenhuysen-Gybels, Jerry

    Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 2003, 14, 129-159

    Data from European countries allowed us to seek an explanation for different degrees of church commitment. The debate on church commitment has contrasted secularization theory with the new paradigm of rational choice theory. This investigation focused on indicators related to secularization & rational choice theories besides additional sociological variables, including religious socialization in the formative years & the impact of the Enlightenment. Following this investigation, the research focused on two related issues. The first was compartmentalization, ie, the mental disjunction of religion from other aspects of life, to wit, individuals' subjective view of secularization. The theoretical question here was whether higher levels of church commitment are reflected in a low degree of compartmentalization. The second issue asked how people reacted to being confronted by an expanding diversity of religions, ie, religious pluralism. The questions here were whether people with a high degree of church commitment had a positive or a negative attitude toward religious pluralism, both at a cultural & a private level. 5 Tables, 37 References. Adapted from the source document.

  7. Christian Heritage in Western Europe: What Have the New Generations Done?

    Brechon, Pierre

    Social Compass, 2004, 51, 2, June, 203-219

    The Christian legacy of Europe appears first in the large & globalization-resistant gap which distinguishes European countries of Catholic culture from those of Protestant culture. By analysing the European Values Survey data, the author then shows the ways in which this legacy varies from one generation to another: the older generations remain more deeply influenced by the Christian system than the younger ones. By comparing the 1981, 1990 & 1999 data by cohorts, the author points out the complexity of evolutions: with the replacement of generations, religion very often seems to be of decreasing relevance, but the young recompose elements of religiosity in forms that are often loose, far from the great narratives & dogmas of institutions. Thus only minorities build an entire system of attitudes strongly influenced by a religious or anti-religious identity. The increase in loose religious identities among the majority has not led to the dulling of conviction among the minorities. 12 Tables, 24 References. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright 2004 Social Compass.].

  8. Continuity and change in contemporary Ulster Protestantism

    Brewer, John D

    Sociological Review; 52 (2) May 2004, pp.265-283

    This paper explores current trends in religious practice, observance and belief in Ulster Protestantism for elements of continuity and change. Using historical and survey data it is clear that there are strongelements of both. However, Protestant religiosity is not changing to the point that it constitutes secularisation, as sociologists of religion understand it. Nor are new trends in religiosity weakening ethno-national identities in Northern Ireland. This is because political identities are socially reproduced in ways that are independent of their religious roots and are thus unaffected by patterns of religiosity. Likely changes in Protestant religiosity in the future therefore offer noimmediate panacea for altering the dynamics of Northern Irish politics. (Original abstract)

  9. Christianity in Britain, RIP

    Bruce, S

    Sociology of Religion; 62 (2) Summer 2001, p.191-203

    It has been claimed that secularization is a myth based on exaggerating the religious vitality of the past and underestimating that of the present. Takes issue with the first point briefly but concentrates on showing that, in the case of Britain, even if confined to comparisons of religiosity in 1851, 1900 and 2000, the evidence is of clear and dramatic decline. Presents recently gathered data on church membership and attendance, showing that major British denominations will cease to exist by 2030 unless long-stable trends are reversed. (Original abstract - amended)

  10. The Supply-Side Model of Religion: The Nordic and Baltic States

    Bruce, Steve

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2000, 39, 1, Mar, 32-46

    Uses the fortunes of religion in the Nordic & Baltic States to identify weaknesses in the supply-side model of religious behavior promoted by Rodney Stark, Roger Finke, & Laurence Iannaccone (1995). Changes in religious observance in the Nordic countries over the 20th century, & comparisons between them, contradict a number of supply-side propositions. Comparisons between the Baltic states similarly show no support for supply-side claims. Instead, both clusters suggest that the fate of religion owes more to its links with ethnicity, national consciousness, national conflict, & to the theology & ecclesiology of the religion in question than to issues of state regulation. 6 Tables, 65 References. Adapted from the source document.

  11. The God gulf

    Cairncross, Frances

    Index on Censorship; 33 (4) Oct 2004, pp.17-23

    In no other country outside the Islamic world is religion such a central aspect of politics as it is in the USA. For many Europeans, the public role of religion in the USA is both bizarre and sinister. A serious question is whether religion is now exerting a distorting influenceon America's foreign policy. The deepening tensions with Islamic countries in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001 and the deteriorating relations between Israel and the Palestinians have put the spotlight on the impact of evangelical Christianity in Washington. As the battle for America's soul grows more polarised, the danger is that religion and religious issues will increasingly colour political debate.

  12. Pragmatic Consumers and Practical Products: The Success of Pneumacentric Religion among Women in Latin America's New Religious Economy

    Chesnut, R Andrew

    Review of Religious Research; 45 (1) Sep 2003, pp.20-31

    The development of a free-market religious economy in Latin America over the past half-century has resulted in a proliferation of new spiritual enterprises. In the highly competitive popular religious marketplace where spiritual goods are produced, offered, and consumed by the region's impoverished majority, pneumacentric or spirit-centered groupshave prospered like no others. Pentecostalism, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and African diasporan faiths have been successful in theirappeal to popular religious consumers to the point that they have cornered the market of faith among the disprivileged of the region. Sincethe great majority of Latin American religious consumers are women, any religious enterprise interested in growing must produce and market spiritual goods and services that meet the specific tastes and preferences of those who constitute the majority of the market. Thus, employing the theoretical tools of religious economy, this article analyzes the success of the three major pneumacentric enterprises among Latin American women of the popular classes. 21 References. (Original abstract- amended)

  13. Invisible Religion or Diffused Religion in Italy?

    Cipriani, Roberto

    Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion; 50 (3) Sep 2003, pp.311-320

    The publication of "The Invisible Religion" by Thomas Luckmann inspired conflicting judgements. It was hard to accept the idea of religion in terms of modern approaches, thus overturning a series of defining schemas of religion. It has really not been subjected to a screening byspecific field research. When this has occurred in a partial sense, there has been evidence of a certain gap between the abstractness of the theory and the concreteness of empirical data. Actually historicallyorganized and consolidated religions are still active and dominant. Luckmann's thesis is very useful at the methodological level provided we do not force the terms of his concluding argument so as to make it universally and aprioristically valid. Probably at the root of the resistance of visible, or more exactly, diffused, religion is the fact that in Italy there is a situation different from that where religion is not generally and successfully transmitted through the basic socialization procedures. 25 References. [Copyright 2003 Sage Publications Ltd.].

  14. Youth and religion: the gameboy generation goes to "church"

    Cnaan, Ram A; Gelles, Richard J; Sinha, Jill W

    Social Indicators Research; 68 (2) Sep 2004, pp.175-200

    Using the secularization theory and the Marxist notion of religion asmasking class conscience one would expect the importance of religion and religious involvement today to wane and be limited to lower class members, To challenge this expectation, using a representative national telephone survey of 2004 youth (ages 11-18) and their parents, we attempt to answer the following two questions: How religious are teenagers, and what may explain variation in religious perception and involvement among teens. Findings suggest that religion remains perceived as very important by most teenagers and parents report that about two-thirds of teenagers attended a place of worship at least monthly and thattwo out of five attended a social group sponsored by a religious organization. These findings do not support the secularization theory. As expected, parental attendance of religious worship, teen's age, and teen's ethnicity and gender were significantly associated with three variables of religious behavior and attendance. In contrast to the Marxist notion of religion, measures of socio-economic status indicate that,in the contemporary United States, religious participation, but not beliefs, is largely the domain of the middle-upper classes. (Original abstract)

  15. The Bible and sociology

    Coleman, J A

    Sociology of Religion; 60 (2) Summer 1999, p.125-48

    1998 Paul Hanly Furfey Lecture. For the past twenty-five years, a sub-branch of biblical studies has engages, sometimes rather vigorously, in the pursuit of using sociological methods to understand the Bible. These, often autodidact biblical scholars, have taken over a branch of sociology of religion. The methods they follow in their pursuit of the strange world of the Bible can teach sociology how to retrieve a more critical sociology. The questions they ask would be helpful more generally to sociology of religion. (Original abstract)

  16. Internal Competition in a National Religious Monopoly: The Catholic Effect and the Italian Case

    Diotallevi, Luca

    Sociology of Religion; 63 (2) summer 2002, p.137-155

    The 'Catholic effect,' or the religious vitality of Catholic areas compared to areas where other religions dominate, has been observed by various scholars but not completely explained. Italy, where a Catholic religious monopoly dominates, also shows this effect. Indicators of vitality from clerical recruitment to mass attendance have remained relatively high and largely stable in recent decades. Yet the principal theoretical paradigms - secularization and religious market theory - both would predict a crisis, although for different reasons. This paper addresses the vitality of Italian Catholicism by applying religious market theory and introducing the possibility of internal competition. The policies and polity of Italian Catholicism tolerate and support internal competition; this appears to counteract the decline predicted not only by the old but also by the new paradigm. The Italian case is thus revealed to be not an exceptional event, as often considered in Italian sociology of religion. The Catholic effect could be analyzed and perhaps explained using religious market theory once internal competition is accounted for. 2 Figures, 74 References. (Original abstract - amended)

  17. Sociology of Religion: From Institutional Reference to a Sociological Analysis of Society

    Dobbelaere, Karel

    Tijdschrift voor Sociologie, 2004, 25, 1, 79-92

    Although, in the past, religion was of great interest to those engaged in general sociology, the sociology of religion developed as a subfield only in the second part of last century. In Western Europe, the emerging subfield was first of all institution-bound & sociographic. Studies of normative integration gradually enlarged the field of study to include more than the ritualistic dimension of religion. The reference to general sociology was mostly at the level of using general sociological insights that facilitated the development of middle-range theories. At the end of the 1960s, a more general frame of reference emerged: secularization theory. Henceforth, sociologists studied religion to analyze the changes in Western societies. In Belgium, the focus was on secularization & pillarization; the study of a market of meaning systems; religious bricolage as an aspect of high modernity; comparative studies of different religions; & studies based on international surveys. 42 References. Adapted from the source document.

  18. Future of Secularism in India

    Engineer, Asghar Ali

    Futures, 2004, 36, 6-7, Aug-Sept, 765-769

    The question of future of secularism in India is very important particularly at this juncture. Secularism was never meant to be the indifference to religion by our leaders & freedom fighters, who realised that India is a highly religious country. That is why even the most orthodox Hindus & Muslims accepted it as a viable ideology for India. But after independence Indian secularism followed a tortuous course & religious fundamentalism has grown dangerously in the last few decades. The Bhartiya Janta Party & the Sangh Parivar, in particular, are likely to intensify the Hindutva agenda in the future. In these political circumstances the future of secularism does not seem to be bright in the short run. But in the long run, India's bewildering culture of pluralism, dating back many centuries, economic progress in the future & the well-established Indian democracy are factors that point to a more stable & secular polity. [Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.].

  19. Slovenia: At a Distance from a Perfect Religious Market

    Flere, Sergej

    Religion, State & Society, 2004, 32, 2, June, 151-157

    Analyzes the "religious market" in postcommunist Slovenia in the context of an increasingly pluralist society. It is shown how the historical hegemony of the Catholic Church, though weakening, remains a strong force in Slovenian society. However, with increased religious pluralism & secularization, along with the new constitutional declaration of a full separation between church & state, the ground is set for the development of a free market for religious views, practices, & services. Factors supporting & obstructing the development of an improved religious market are identified. Strategies used by the Catholic Church to "market" its position & products are also described. 23 References. K. Hyatt Stewart.

  20. After atheism: an analysis of religious monopolies in the post-communist world

    Froese, Paul

    Sociology of Religion; 65 (1) Spring 2004, pp.57-75

    Dramatic religious growth has occurred throughout the former Soviet Union in the past 30 years with approximately 100 million people joining religious groups for the first time. These religious revivals correspond to lessening restrictions on religious activity - a clear prediction of the "religious-economies" or "supply-side" approach to the study of religion. Nevertheless, a comparative analysis of post-communist countries reveals that levels of religious pluralism are not commensurate to levels of religious growth, a finding which seemingly contradicts a central proposition in the supply-side approach. This paper argues that a religious-economies explanation of post-communist religious growth remains untarnished when one considers the impact of Soviet atheism on religious markets and the role of religious regulation in the post-communist era. These two factors have created an instance where religious monopolies are able to grow at unprecedented rates. (Original abstract)

  21. Forced Secularization in Soviet Russia: Why an Atheistic Monopoly Failed

    Froese, Paul

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2004, 43, 1, Mar, 35-50

    Under communism, the Russian religious landscape consisted mainly of two competitors - a severely repressed Russian Orthodox Church & a heavily promoted atheist alternative to religion called "scientific atheism." Under these circumstances, one might expect the rapid spread of religious disbelief, but the intensity of the atheist campaign originated from official mandate & not popular appeal. In turn, scientific atheism never inspired the Russian population & grew increasingly uninspired as Soviet officials created a monopoly "church" of scientific atheism in hopes of replacing persistent religious beliefs & practices. This article is dedicated to explaining why Communists could not successfully convert the masses to atheism. The findings provide evidence that systems of belief require more than simply the power of promotion & coercion to become accepted. 4 Tables, 2 Figures, 47 References. Adapted from the source document.

  22. Hungary for religion: a supply-side interpretation of the Hungarian religious revival

    Froese, Paul

    Journal for the scientific study of religion, vol. 40 no. 2, pp. 251-268, Jun 2001

    The collapse of Soviet Communism has brought about sweeping revivals of religion in most of Eastern Europe and the Soviet successor states. This astonishing change in religious activity appears ideal for further testing of the supply-side theory of religious change. In this paper I investigate whether the dramatic religious revival in Hungary can be explained using a supply-side framework. I begin with a brief sketch of the history of religion in 20th-century Hungary in order to place current data in the proper context. Next, I present data from national surveys of Hungary and eyewitness accounts to assess the causal relationship between religious restrictions and religious activity as predicted by supply-side theory. Then I investigate secularization accounts of religious activity in Hungary and conclude that the supply-side thesis best fits the available data. Finally, I indicate the leveling off of the Hungarian revival due to decreased religious competition and posit future expectations concerning religious activity in Hungary.; Reprinted by permission of Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

  23. Replete and Desolate Markets: Poland, East Germany, and the New Religious Paradigm

    Froese, Paul; Pfaff, Steven

    Social Forces, 2001, 80, 2, Dec, 481-507

    Is the new paradigm in the sociology of religion, known as the "supply-side" or "rational choice" perspective, leading towards a plausible general theory? The answer remains dependent upon how one interprets current deviations from the paradigm's predictions. This article investigates two cases in post-communist Europe, Poland, & East Germany, which appear to contradict a simple core hypothesis of the new paradigm. We argue that these anomalous cases are opportunities to examine & extend the explanatory range of the new paradigm. The authors conclude that these cases can be shown through closer analysis to fit with the underlying logic of the new paradigm; thereby, argue for the theory's continued evaluation & augmentation. 9 Tables, 70 References. Adapted from the source document.

  24. Islam in Europe

    Gole, Nilufer

    Index on Censorship; 33 (4) Oct 2004, pp.110-116

    Since the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkish modernists have been uncompromisingly secular and still are. In consequence, European integration or Europeanness means the final accomplishment ofa secular project for those Turks who embrace European values of modernity. The presence of Islam through migration in European countries, and also through Turkey's candidacy for the European Union, addresses new issues of difference and tolerance in Western democracies. As Turkey moves closer to Europe, public apprehension surrounding Islam has become explicit, as did the need to define and maintain the frontiers of Europe.

  25. Contentious Public Religion: Two Conceptions of Islam in Revolutionary Iran: Ali Shariati and Abdolkarim Soroush

    Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz

    International Sociology, 2004, 19, 4, Dec, 504-523

    Theorists of secularization considered modernity an irreversible process of differentiation between mutually exclusive spheres of private vs public life. In contrast, proponents of a new paradigm argue that differentiation has strengthened religion in modern society through the establishment of religious market economies. Contrary to both views, the resurgence of religious movements in the last 20 years, particularly Islamist movements, has introduced a new form of contentious public religion that calls into question the interconnectedness of modernity with the privatization of religion. This article shows how the reintroduction of religion in the public sphere contributed to a new understanding of Islam & its relation to contemporary social life. Two distinct articulations of Islam before & after the Iranian revolution of 1979 are examined, those of Ali Shari'ati & Abdolkarim Soroush. Whereas Shari'ati transformed Islam into an ideology of social change, in his ideology critique, Soroush reinstated the enigmatic core of Islam through a hermeneutic distinction between religion & the knowledge of it. The article argues that what religion is, a theological question, is intimately linked to the sociological question what religion does. 80 References. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright 2004.].

  26. Lost in the Supermarket: Comments on Beaman, Religious Pluralism, and What It Means to Be Free

    Gill, Anthony

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2003, 42, 3, Sept, 327-332

    A comment on Lori G. Beaman's article, "The Myth of Pluralism, Diversity, and Vigor" (2003) focuses on two methodological flaws in her argument that there is limited religious choice in North America. First, Beaman's definition of religious pluralism is said to be too broad to be useful. The true nature of diversity is lost when all Christian groups are treated as a single entity. A better alternative involves defining religious pluralism on the basis of the religious organization's organizational & financial autonomy. The second flaw is Beaman's use of four anecdotal cases to support her view of "marginalized" religious groups. In spite of some difficulties these groups might have had in securing equal legal space, it is argued that they are given an unprecedented degree of religious freedom in America, & many of them have enjoyed significant legal victories. Emphasis is placed on the complexity of constitutional privileging, religious hegemony, & freedom of religion in a global context. Suggestions are made for further research. 12 References. J. Lindroth.

  27. State Welfare Spending and Religiosity: A Cross-National Analysis

    Gill, Anthony; Lundsgaarde, Erik

    Rationality and Society, 2004, 16, 4, Nov, 399-436

    What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance & non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory & the religious economy perspective, we assert that cross-national variation in religious participation is a function of government welfare spending & provide a theory that links macro-sociological outcomes with individual rationality. Churches historically have provided social welfare. As governments gradually assume many of these welfare functions, individuals with elastic preferences for spiritual goods will reduce their level of participation since the desired welfare goods can be obtained from secular sources. Cross-national data on welfare spending & religious participation show a strong negative relationship between these two variables after controlling for other aspects of modernization. 5 Tables, 6 Figures, 1 Appendix, 33 References. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Inc., copyright 2004.].

  28. Spirituality in the Workplace: New Empirical Directions in the Study of the Sacred

    Grant, Don; O'Neil, Kathleen; Stephens, Laura

    Sociology of Religion, 2004, 65, 3, fall, 265-283

    In stark contrast to Weber's warnings about bureaucracies parceling out the soul of workers, several popular & business writers claim that "spirituality is exploding in the workplace." Drawing on recent sociological research on spiritual practices, experiences, & discourse, we scrutinize this claim through a case study of a university hospital's nursing staff. We demonstrate that even in a workplace where a large majority of employees believe that their work practices are spiritual, they experience the sacred in a variety of ways, & are eager to talk about spirituality, many workers may still struggle to find opportunities to practice their spiritual beliefs, they may have other work experiences that cause them to doubt spirituality's relevance, & they may perceive talk about spirituality to be unwelcome. Implications of our findings for future sociological research on the sacred & the debate over secularization are discussed. 4 Tables, 29 References. Adapted from the source document.

  29. La "Religion invisible" en Belgique: questions de visibilite. "Invisible Religion" in Belgium: Questions of Visibility

    Hiernaux, Jean-Pierre; Servais, Olivier

    Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion; 50 (3) Sep 2003, pp.335-343

    "Visible religion" in Belgium takes the form it takes in many other Western European countries: classic forms of practices, beliefs, and identifications can be distinguished, but the gap between these and traditional religious forms is increasing. However, this gap does not keepthe "visible religion" from seeking fundamental meaning, or producingand celebrating the same. Quite the contrary, as concerns practices and beliefs relative to death, for example, older forms do not simply disappear, but are replaced by new arrangements. These new arrangementsare self-produced and self-maintained, but they do not give rise to an increase in individualization in a context of dissolution of forms. It may be that still newer forms will rise upon the ashes of these forms. Should they not be described as "religious"? And in order to transcend their relative "invisibility," must the sociology of religion notalso break with its history of colonization by prior forms? 12 References. [Copyright 2003 Sage Publications Ltd.].

  30. The Growth of New Age versus the Decline of Christian Churches: Individualization, Secularization, and Religious Change

    Houtman, Dick; Mascini, Peter; Gels, Marieke

    Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift, 2000, 27, 4, Dec, 477-508

    Research carried out by the Dutch Social & Cultural Planning Office (SCP) has pointed out that the increased popularity of New Age since the mid-1960s by no means compensates for the decline of the Christian churches. Here, reasons behind the occurrence of these remarkably divergent developments are explored, based on analysis of 32 in-depth interviews with New Agers &, comparing the young & the elderly, survey data collected among the Dutch population at large in 1998 (N = 1,848). Findings reveal no indications that the decline of the Christian tradition has been caused by a process of rationalization. It is argued that the decline of the Christian tradition & the growth of nonreligiosity, including New Age, are caused by increased levels of moral individualism ("individualization"). Implications for the sociological analysis of cultural & religious change are discussed. 2 Tables, 3 Figures, 70 References. Adapted from the source document.

  31. Why Do Churches Become Empty, While New Age Grows? Secularization and Religious Change in the Netherlands

    Houtman, Dick; Mascini, Peter

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2002, 41, 3, Sept, 455-473

    Research from the Netherlands has pointed out that the increased popularity of New Age since the 1960s by no means compensates for the dramatic decline of the Christian churches. From a theoretical point of view, however, it is more important to study why those remarkably divergent developments have occurred in the first place. This article does this by analyzing survey data collected among the Dutch population at large in 1998, focusing on a comparison of the young & the elderly. It is concluded (1) that there are no indications that the decline of the Christian tradition has been caused by a process of rationalization. (2) The decline of the Christian tradition & the growth of nonreligiosity as well as New Age are caused by increased levels of moral individualism (individualization). Implications for the sociological analysis of cultural & religious change are discussed. 2 Tables, 4 Figures, 74 References. Adapted from the source document.

  32. Never on sunny days: lessons from weekly attendance counts

    Iannaccone, Laurence R.; Everton, Sean F.

    Journal for the scientific study of religion, vol. 43 no. 2, pp. 191-208, Jun 2004

    Congregational attendance data are abundant, accessible, and relevant for religious research. Weekly attendance histories provide information about worshippers, congregations, and denominations that surveys cannot capture. The histories yield novel measures of commitment, testable implications of rational choice theory, and compelling evidence that attendance responds strongly to changes in the opportunity cost of time.; Reprinted by permission of Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

  33. Why Strict Churches Are Strong

    Iannaccone, Laurence R

    American Journal of Sociology, 1994, 99, 5, Mar, 1180-1211

    Argues that the strength of strict churches (characterized by absolutism, conformity, & fanaticism) is neither a historical coincidence nor a statistical artifact. Strictness makes organizations stronger & more attractive. It reduces free riding by screening out members who lack commitment & stimulates participation among those who remain. Rational choice theory effectively explains the success of sects, cults, & conservative denominations without recourse to assumptions of irrationality, abnormality, or misinformation. The theory also predicts differences between strict & lenient groups, distinguishes between effective & counterproductive demands, & demonstrates the need to adapt strict demands in response to social change. 3 Tables, 4 Figures, 1 Appendix, 46 References. Adapted from the source document.

  34. Religion, rationality, and experience: a response to the new Rational choice theory of religion

    Jerolmack, Colin; Porpora, Douglas

    Sociological Theory; 22 (1) Mar 2004, pp.140-160

    This paper is a critical response to the newest version of the rational choice theory of religion (RCTR). In comparison with previous critiques, this paper takes aim at RCTR's foundational assumption of psychological egoism and argues that the thesis of psychological egoism is untenable. Without that thesis, the normative aspects of religious commitment cannot be reduced validly to instrumental reason. On neither conceptual nor empirical grounds therefore can religion or religious commitment be defined comprehensively in terms of exchange theory. With the failure of psychological egoism as a point of departure, the paper articulates an alternative theory of religion, one based on the epistemic rationality grounded in religious experience and religious emotion. (Original abstract)

  35. From Religious Markets to Religious Communities: Contrasting Implications for Applied Research

    Johnson, D Paul

    Review of Religious Research, 2003, 44, 4, June, 325-340

    The major argument of this paper is that the market model of religion (part of the sociology of religion's "new paradigm") should be balanced by an equally strong focus on the concept of community. In contrast to the individualistic utilitarian assumptions of the market model, in which individuals' religious beliefs & behavior reflect their rational choice efforts to obtain the most personal benefits at the lowest cost, the concept of community emphasizes that individuals' interests may be expanded through emotional bonds with fellow-members & identification with the community's welfare & values. Although members benefit personally from belonging, their motivations are seen as different from those involved in market transactions, & the nature of emotional exchanges within communities makes the cost/reward distinction difficult to establish on an objective basis. Variations in the relative priority different people give to personal interests vs community obligations may be related to gender as well as to generational cohort & other historical, cultural, & subcultural variations in different social settings. The differences in the underlying implications of the concepts of market vs community are important because of their potential to influence the nature of the social world that scholars seek to understand. 65 References. Adapted from the source document.

  36. Religious Life under Theocracy: The Case of Iran

    Kazemipur, Abdolmohammad; Rezaei, Ali

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2003, 42, 3, Sept, 347-361

    The occurrence of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, followed by a large-scale "Islamization" of society, resulted in some unique developments with regard to religious life in this country. In the present study, we rely on a rich set of empirical data recently gathered through a large-scale national survey of values & attitudes in Iran, & through a composite index of religious sentiments, we explore the magnitude & the nature of religious sentiments among groups of different age & gender. Also, we examine changes with regard to religiosity, 1975-2001. The outstanding finding is that the establishment of a theocratic regime in Iran has led to the transformation of the nature of faith, marked by a noticeable shift from "organized" to a more "personalized" religion, in which the emphasis is placed on beliefs rather than on practices. Also, among both beliefs & practices, more emphasis is placed on those with a purely individual nature, or with a social nature but organized through civic & nongovernmental bodies, as opposed to those commanded by the government. The article ends with a brief discussion of the implications of such developments for the existing debate among sociologists of religion on secularization & "de-secularization." Our findings indicate that any linear perspective on the demise or survival of religion in society will unreasonably brush aside the fact that religion is not merely a social institution, but also a "cultural resource" that individuals may draw upon, depending on their surrounding sociopolitical circumstances & their reading of those circumstances. 6 Tables, 1 Figure, 1 Appendix, 23 References. Adapted from the source document.

  37. The "Other" Success Story. Protestant Churches in South Korea

    Kern, Thomas

    Zeitschrift fur Soziologie, 2001, 30, 5, Oct, 341-361

    The explosive growth of Protestant churches in South Korea (1950-1995) is analyzed empirically in connection with the influence of foreign powers, the relationship between state & religion, urbanization, church splits, an offensive mission policy, the creation of new elites, & specific cultural influences, as well as other factors. The study is a contribution to the current, controversial debate in the sociology of religion that discusses processes of religious mobilization in connection with social structural conditions (the European approach), on the one hand, & the extension of the religious supply side (the American approach) on the other hand. The analytical potential of both positions is applied in the research. In addition, the discourse is extended & complemented by emphasizing the structure of religious demand & the resulting collective effects. This leads to important impulses for the sociological study of comparable transformation processes in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, & Southeast Asia. 4 Illustrations, 109 References. Adapted from the source document.

  38. Secularism in France

    King, Tim

    Prospect; (96) Mar 2004, pp.64-68

    The French law against the wearing of headscarves by Muslim girls in school may be a tactic to neutralize right wing racism, but behind it lies the idea of "laicite". This is about more than a secular state; it is an ideology, defining what it means to be French. (Original abstract - amended)

  39. The Illusion of State Neutrality in a Secularising Ireland

    Kissane, Bill

    West European Politics; 26 (1) Jan 2003, pp.73-94

    Ireland is frequently cited as a case of church-state separation and state religious neutrality, but an examination of the 1937 constitution, and efforts to amend it, indicates that the Irish state has never been neutral when it comes to religion. On the other hand, if neutrality can be construed as the state regulating the affairs of different religious communities in an even-handed way, recent trends suggest that the Irish state is moving toward a position of 'religious neutrality,'even if this falls far short of what liberals would demand. Indeed, neutrality as practiced in the Irish context precludes any separation of church and state and actually reinforces the position of the Catholic Church. As such, there seems to be a weak relationship between the wider process of secularization and Irish state policy. (Original abstract - amended)

  40. Europe and Invisible Religion

    Knoblauch, Hubert

    Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion; 50 (3) Sep 2003, pp.267-274

    This introductory article begins by sketching Luckmann's theory of invisible religion. It lays stress particularly on the recent modifications of this theory: in addition to the well-known anthropological notion of transcendence, Luckmann elaborates a detailed phenomenological notion of transcendence, distinguishing between three levels of transcendence. This innovation, it is argued, not only affects Luckmann's general theory of religion. It also sheds a new light on the religious situation in Europe. Europe is, indeed, characterized by the decrease ofreligion as opposed to other areas of the world where we discern a kind of 'resacralization'. However, three restrictions apply to this statement: the religious situation in Europe is still very diverse; the institutional role of the churches in Europe is quite specific, and, finally, if we apply Luckmann's notion of religion, we can detect a blooming alternative religiosity in Europe which parallels the global tendency. 25 References. [Copyright 2003 Sage Publications Ltd.].

  41. Changes in Religious Evolution in Europe and Russia

    Lambert, Yves

    Revue francaise de Sociologie, 2004, 45, 2, Apr-June, 307-338

    In the 1981 & 1990 European Values Surveys, nearly all religious variables showed a decline, particularly sharp among young people, with the exception of belief in an afterlife. The younger a person was, the less religious he or she was likely to be. This confirmed the thesis that Western Europe was becoming increasingly secular. However, the latest wave of surveys, from 1999, shows this decline to be counterbalanced by two other trends: stronger religious feeling within the Christian faith & belief unaccompanied by religious membership. These phenomena are much more pronounced among young people. The strength of the three respective trends varies by country. Stronger versions of the same trends may be observed in the former Eastern bloc countries & Russia, once again particularly among young people. These changes are seen to represent a move away from the break with religion that characterized the 1960s & 1970s. 5 Tables, 41 References. Adapted from the source document.

  42. Enforced secularization - spontaneous revival? Religious belief, unbelief, uncertainty and indifference in East and West European countries1991-1998

    Meulemann, Heiner

    European Sociological Review; 20 (1) Feb 2004, pp.47-61

    The religious question of men's origin and destination can be answered by belief, unbelief, uncertainty and indifference. The degree of secularization should decrease belief against the three remaining options, increase unbelief against uncertainty and indifference, and decreaseuncertainty against indifference. The paper asks if the enforced formof 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. Furthermore, it examines if the developments of countries and their reversal remain significant if the education, the age and the religious practice of individuals are controlled. Dependent variables are the belief in God and the Bible as surveyed in the ISSP 1991 and 1998. 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. Furthermore, the effects of the degree and the form of secularization do not shrink if education and age of individualsare controlled, and do shrink but remain significant if additionally religious practice is controlled. (Original abstract)

  43. Is Northern Ireland Abnormal? An Extension of the Sociological Debate on Religion in Modern Britain

    Mitchell, Claire

    Sociology, 2004, 38, 2, Apr, 237-254

    This article places Northern Ireland within the unfolding sociological debate on religion in modern Britain. It measures secularization along Casanova's three dimensions (1994): religious differentiation, decline & privatization. It finds that Northern Ireland has, in common with Britain, high levels of religious differentiation, grey areas of religious belief & little convinced secularism. However, Northern Ireland differs in that it has higher levels of religious affiliation & practice, & religion plays more roles in civil society than it does in other parts of Britain. The article explores the role of conflict in forming these religious trends, asking if they represent a persistence of the sacred, or simply mask deeper ethnic divisions. It concludes that the social dimensions of religion are just as important as the supernatural, & that they often inform each other. Finally, it suggests that the dynamics of religious change are comparable across regions &, as such, Northern Ireland might be a useful case study for British policy makers, particularly as it becomes increasingly multicultural & religiously plural. 39 References. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright 2004.].

  44. The strange death of Christian Britain: another look at the secularization debate

    Morris, Jeremy

    Historical journal, vol. 46 no. 4, pp. 963-976, Dec 2003

    This article reviews the recent historiography of religion in modern Britain, concentrating on the debate about secularization and the work of Callum Brown in particular, but also with reference to Sarah Williams and Simon Green. It endorses, broadly, the criticisms made by these and other historians of older assumptions of a one-way, 'inevitable' link between modernization and religious decline, but in turn accuses them of attenuating the concept of 'religion' in the modern period to the point where it has lost internal sophistication. It suggests, instead, the compatibility of indices of institutional church decline with the persistence of religious identity and limited church affiliation.; Reprinted by permission of Cambridge University Press. An electronic version of this article can be accessed via the internet at

  45. Can Rising Rates of Church Participation Be a Consequence of Secularization?

    Phillips, Rick

    Sociology of Religion, 2004, 65, 2, summer, 139-153

    An influential theory in the sociology of religion holds that the separation of church & state forces religious organizations to compete with one another for adherents. This competitive climate heightens levels of church participation. This paper examines two cases where rates of individual religious activity increased following the differentiation of political & ecclesiastical structures as the competition theory predicts. However, the facts surrounding these increases are not wholly consistent with the theory's propositions. Rather, I show that a heretofore neglected variant of secularization theory suggests a mechanism that better links the process of social differentiation to changes in individual religious participation. 67 References. Adapted from the source document.

  46. Religiousness Inside and Outside the Church in Selected Post-Communist Countries of Central and Eastern Europe

    Pollack, Detlef

    Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion; 50 (3) Sep 2003, pp.321-334

    In Western Europe more and more sociologists of religion are talking about religious individualization instead of secularization to describe the religious change in modern societies. Institutional forms of religion, especially traditional Christian Churches, are increasingly losing their social significance; new forms of religion, which are not sohighly institutionalized and more syncretistic, are, however, emerging. The author raises the question whether this theoretical model conceptualized for Western Europe can be applied to the analysis of religious developments in Eastern Europe. The result of the analysis carried out on the basis of a representative survey in 11 Eastern and Central European countries is that new forms of religiousness outside the Church are emerging in Eastern and Central Europe. In predominantly Catholic countries, these forms stand in contrast to the traditional forms of religion, in more secularized countries, they are not an alternativeto institutionalized forms of religion. 5 Tables, 3 Figures, 12 References. [Copyright 2003 Sage Publications Ltd.].

  47. Stark's Age of Faith Argument and the Secularization of Things: A Commentary

    Sommerville, C John

    Sociology of Religion; 63 (3) Fall 2002, p.361-372

    Rodney Stark (1999) has argued that secularization theory stands or falls with the historical existence of an 'age of faith,' which is thought to present a contrast with our present religiously mixed situation. He presents much recent evidence that the medieval period does not fit that description. But he misconceives the issues. First, faith is not the most natural description of medieval religion, which is better seen as religious culture. As Lucien Febvre pointed out, those populations literally could not express themselves outside of a religious idiom, unlike today. Therefore, we commonly adopt a different sense of the term 'secularization' in reference to culture (things or institutions) than when referring to people (beliefs). Second, although Stark warns that in assessing religion today we must remember not to restrict ourselves to Christianity, he violates that principle in insisting on proper religion when assessing medieval society. Third, he assumes that in speaking of secularization, one must mean secularization theory. This ignores a descriptive sense used in historical scholarship. Thus, Stark is announcing the demise of the concept of secularization just when it is becoming a larger and more important problem for scholars. 26 References. (Original abstract - amended)

  48. Secularization, RIP

    Stark, R

    Sociology of religion; 60 (3) Fall 1999, p.249-73

    From the beginning, social scientists celebrated the secularization thesis despite the fact that it never was consistent with empirical reality. Assembles the work of many recent historians who are unanimous that the Age of Faith is pure nostalgia - that lack of religious participation was, if anything, even more widespread in medieval times than now. Demonstrates that there have been no recent religious changes in Christendom that are consistent with the secularization thesis. Expands the assessment of the secularization doctrine to non-Christian societies.

  49. Intermarriage and the Demography of Secularization

    Voas, David

    British Journal of Sociology; 54 (1) Mar 2003, pp.83-108

    One way of measuring religious affiliation is to look at rites of initiation, eg, baptism. English statistics show that for the first time since the Church of England was founded, less than half the nation is Anglican on this criterion. The pattern of formal religious transmission changed during WWII. Previously, christening was quasi-universal, and the Church of England was the preferred provider. By the end of thewar, baptism was evidently optional, and chosen principally by parents whose religious identities matched. Further analysis suggests that affiliation now tends to be lost following marriage to someone from a different religious background, though the US differs from Europe in this respect. A demographic theory of advanced secularization is outlined that specifies a proximal cause for declining religious affiliation,and provides tools for predicting the changes to be expected over future decades. The theory also helps to explain why affiliation may fallmost quickly where there is most religious diversity. 2 Appendixes, 19 References. (Original abstract - amended)

  50. Secularization on Trial: In Defense of a Neosecularization Paradigm

    Yamane, David

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1997, 36, 1, Mar, 109-122

    According to its critics, the old secularization paradigm has been rejected by recent scholarship in the social sciences of religion & is being replaced by a postsecularization paradigm that highlights the continued vitality of religion in modern societies. It is argued that claims to have definitely refuted secularization theory are exaggerated. Defended is a neosecularization paradigm that retains the core insights of the old paradigm while incorporating criticims leveled against the hubris & laziness of some deployments of the concept of secularization. Following Mark Chaves (1994 [see abstract 9407990]), it is argued that the core neosecularization theory is the proposition that secularization means not the decline of religion, but the declining scope of religious authority at the individual, organizational, & societal levels of analysis. Three exemplars of this perspective are higlighted: the work of Allen Hertzke (1988), N. J. Demerath & Rhys Williams (1992 [see abstract 92Z2911]), & Jose Cassanova (1994). 1 Table, 32 References. Adapted from the source document.

  51. The Persistence of Faith among Nonheterosexual Christians: Evidence for the Neosecularization Thesis of Religious Transformation

    Yip, Andrew K T

    Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2002, 41, 2, June, 199-212

    The neosecularization thesis, which combines the "secularization" & "postsecularization" paradigms, argues that religion is in a constant state of transformation (thus persistence). It also argues that the examination of "secularization" needs to be conducted on three levels: macro, meso, & micro. Drawing from a quantitative & qualitative study involving 565 nonheterosexual Christians in the UK, this article aims to lend credence to the neosecularization thesis, focusing on the micro, or individual, level only. This article highlights the lack of influence & impact of religious authority structures on the respondents' views of sexuality & spirituality. Data also demonstrated that, in the construction of the respondents' identity & Christian faith, as well as the fashioning of Christian living, religious authority structures were considered the least significant factor, compared to the respondents' employment of human reason & biblical understanding, within the framework of lived experiences. On the whole, data suggested that the self, rather than religious authority structures, steers the respondents' journeys of spirituality & sexuality. This is evidence of the impact of the "detraditionalization" process on the late modern religious landscape, where the basis of religious faith & practice is primarily predicted on the self rather than traditions & structures. 4 Tables, 67 References. Adapted from the source document.