Journal Article

Religion in Modernity as a New Axial Age: Secularization or New Religious Forms?

Yves Lambert

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 60, issue 3, pages 303-333
Published in print January 1999 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 1999 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Religion in Modernity as a New Axial Age: Secularization or New Religious Forms?

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This article proposes a general model of analysis of the relations between religion and modernity, where modernity is conceived as a new axial age. Modernity appears to have four principal types of religious effects: decline, adaptation and reinterpretation, conservative reaction, and innovation. It produces secularization as well as new religious forms, in particular: worldliness, dehierarchization of the human and the divine, self-spirituality, parascientificity, pluralism, and mobility. Two thresholds of secularization are distinguished: (1) autonomization in relation to a religious authority and (2) abandonment of any religious symbol. I conclude that the first threshold has largely been crossed, but not the second one, except in some domains (science, economics) or for only a minority of the population. This is because of the adaptation of the great religions to modernity, of fundamentalist reactions, and of the spread of new religious forms.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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