Journal Article

Secularization Patterns in the Old Paradigm*

Warren S. Goldstein

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 70, issue 2, pages 157-178
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srp029
Secularization Patterns in the Old Paradigm*

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R. Stephen Warner argues that the master narrative in the old paradigm of sociology of religion is “linear secularization” while in the new paradigm it is “revival and routinization.” This article reexamines the old paradigm to see whether Warner's characterization of it is true. Not only do most of the theories of secularization in the old paradigm not follow a straight line but there is broad agreement among its members that secularization is not a linear process. One can find three other patterns in the old paradigm: the cyclical/spiral, the dialectical, and the paradoxical. This paper argues that a dialectical understanding of the process of secularization, which is contained in the old paradigm, alleviates the criticism wrongly made of it by Warner. A dialectical understanding helps make sense of how secularization and sacralization can occur at the same time.

Keywords: secularization; old paradigm; new paradigm; critical theory; linear; dialectic

Journal Article.  9365 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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