Postmodernism and Religion

Nikolai G. Wenzel

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Postmodernism and Religion

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The contemporary religious scene is somewhat bewildering for social scientists, as people observe apparently contradictory trends. Is the situation best captured by secularisation theory, or by the notion of a resurgence of spirituality? Current religious trends make better sense when viewed through the frame of larger, more-encompassing shifts in mental models, and specifically postmodernism – a term often used, but even more often misunderstood. The first section of this article defines postmodernism, an alternative to modernity's enthusiasm. The second section surveys the literature on three contemporary religious trends – a decline in traditional religion, a resurgence in alternative forms of religiosity, and a fundamentalist backlash – through the analytical lens of postmodernism. The third section sketches more difficult and controversial debates on postmodernism and religion. The final section is a conclusion.

Keywords: secularisation theory; spirituality; postmodernism; religious decline; fundamentalism

Article.  9362 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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