Multiple Modernities and Religion

Christian Smith and Brandon Vaidyanathan

in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Multiple Modernities and Religion

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One master theoretical concept in the social sciences that has for many decades organized foci, problems, explanations, and interpretations in the study of religion has been that of “modernity.” In sociology, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and many others explored processes of economic growth, differentiation, rationalization, individualization, urbanization, and so on, as central dynamics of a theorized process of modernization. Particularly important is the fact that all such social-science theorists and theories consistently believed that modernity was unavoidably destructive of religion, belief in spiritual realities and objective universals, non-naturalistic metaphysics, and “traditional” cultures and perspectives generally. In light of the shortcomings of dominant understandings of modernity, the thesis of multiple modernities has been articulated by scholars from a variety of nationalities and disciplines. This article examines modernization theory and multiple modernities, focusing on modernities in Asia, Europe, and Islam.

Keywords: Europe; modernization; multiple modernities; Asia; Islam; religion; social sciences

Article.  7151 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Comparative Religion

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