Secularization: A Growing Trend

This week in class we talked about religion in modern times. Specifically, we talked about six different trends or narratives that different sociologists have put forth to explain what’s happening to religion in modern times. (Lecture notes) Those six trends are secularization, conservative resurgence, religions as local communities, increased individualism, religious markets, and globalization. (McGuire, Spickard, Lecture notes) Each of these narratives presented different ideas about which direction religion is going. One says religion is decreasing, one says it’s increasing, one says people are shifting how they practice religion, and so on. Also, all these different narratives reveal how not all sociologists are in agreement about what’s happening to religion. In the end though, all these narratives present valid arguments and cases for how religion in changing in modern times.

During the next class, we then focused in on secularization specifically. We got into groups, and we each presented different readings about secularization and what they were about. I noted that there was a lot of dialogue throughout these presentations specifically pertaining to Europe becoming more secular and America remaining more religious. Of course, each reading presented different arguments regarding these things, but it was still interesting how those places seemed to be the two main players in the question about secularization. Some of things that were talked about included what factors have made America more religious and Europe more secular. However, there were other things that were talked about in some of these readings as well. My group presented a reading about the different levels in which secularization occurs. (Chaves, Pg. 757, 765) This included the societal level, the individual level, and the organizational level within the religious institutions themselves. (Chaves, Pg. 765-769) In the end, this is all important stuff to know in order to paint a clearer picture of how religion in society is changing.