Religious Diversity, Secularization, and Postmodernity

John G. Stackhouse

in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195340136
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Religious Diversity, Secularization, and Postmodernity

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This article shows how modernity—and particularly secularization and postmodernism—have attempted to domesticate religion and to manage religious diversity. According to the so-called secularization thesis, preeminent in sociological theory by the middle of the twentieth century, the process of modernization included several subprocesses, each of which was understood to be a “carrier” of secularization. As societies became more modern, so the theory went, they would inexorably become more secular. Religions were understood as part of the premodern world and would inevitably decay and disappear in the light of modern progress. It would be better to say that several processes of modernization act not as carriers of secularization (too strong a term, implying inevitability) but as facilitators of it. Secularization is not a necessary result of modernization, but the record shows that modernization certainly has seemed to help it along. This article first explains the words “secular,” “secularity,” “secularism,” and “secularization” before discussing the link between modernization and secularization, secularization and social coherence, and secularization and postmodernism.

Keywords: secularism; secularization; modernization; social coherence; postmodernism; modernity; religion

Article.  4788 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Comparative Religion

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