Introduction: Rethinking the Secularization of American Public Life

Christian Smith

in The Secular Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520230002
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936706 | DOI:
Introduction: Rethinking the Secularization of American Public Life

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This chapter lays out a theoretical framework for a “secular revolution” approach to macrosocial secularization and examines a set of specific institutions to see how this analytical approach might work in particular cases. It begins by examining problems in the old secularization theory. Most recent critiques of secularization theory argue primarily at the micro level of individual belief and practice. Few of them address the organizational and macrosocial levels of secularization. Following this, the chapter presents a critical analysis of the secular movement, and furthermore, elaborates a broad analytical framework for an alternative secular introduction movement approach. Finally, it proposes the rethinking of macrosocial secularization from the analytical perspective of the field of study most attentive to the factors missing from traditional secularization theory, which are the sociology of revolutions and social movements.

Keywords: secular revolution; secularization; old secularization theory; secular movement; macrosocial secularization; social movements

Chapter.  41775 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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