• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critically discuss the problems faced by sociologists who attempt to define and measure religion and secularisation.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Critically discuss the problems faced by sociologists who attempt to define and measure religion and secularisation. When speaking about secularisation, the same problems are faced as when discussing religion. The issue is difficult to discuss because there is not one consensual definition to the term. Even if there was one single definition upon which everyone agreed on, views about measuring and interpreting the data would vary. This is the problem faced by sociologists today when attempting to establish whether secularisation is occurring in modern day Britain. A common classification of secularisation is the decline of religion and the impact it has on society. Wilson's definition of the term is: "The process whereby religious thinking, practice and institutions loose social significance". However this is open to criticism. Perhaps it is not the fact that views, thinking and practices are less significant, they may just occur less. For those who still believe, religious ideas are still highly significant and hold valuable morals that we should follow. Berger expressed his idea of secularisation as: 'the process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols'. He believes that in western societies, there are more and more people who look upon religion as having little impact on their lives. ...read more.

Middle

This had declined to 9% in 1990. This information comes from Church census data and surveys. There has also been a decline in the number of church marriages, christenings and religious funerals. This all supports the secularisation thesis but there are flaws in this study. The study focuses only on the traditional churches. Other religions such as Baptism have a much slower rate of decline while some ethnic minority religions have actually seen an increase in members in recent years. There are also regional differences. Some areas of England show a low attendance record while other parts have a much higher one. Church attendance is not an entirely reliable source for measuring secularisation. Not all religious people attend church regularly. For many people, religion is a private thing that they like to practice in the comfort of their own homes. This can also work the other way, not all people who attend church are religious. Some may go because other family members like them to, or simply because they like the social side of attending church. Perhaps a better way of measuring secularisation is by calculating all those people who hold belief. This does not necessarily mean just all the people who go to church, but includes those who practice at home. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many reasons for the apparent decline in religious attitudes. Many of the functions of religion such as education and healthcare have been lost to the welfare state. Schools, the social services and the mass media have all contributed to this. Religion has become less influential in moral terms and has been converted into a more private affair. However, Parsons argues that this withdrawal of the church is evidence of structural differentiation, not secularisation. Traditional ways of perceiving the world included the mystical and spiritual. Scientific and empirical explanations have superseded these as technology has advanced. Whatever the reasons for secularisation, the ways of measuring and actually proving that it is happening is very difficult for sociologists. Finding the reasons is a fairly simple task as it does not involve extensive research. For all researches to accurately measure secularisation, they need to agree on a single definition. As Shiner says, "The term is swollen with overtones and implications, especially those associated with indifference or hostility to whatever is considered religious". The best idea is to abandon the word 'religion' in favour of concepts such as faith. If a clear definition is not established, then comparison of studies to discover if Britain is moving towards a more secular society is useless. Vanessa Harris ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Religion in the Media section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Religion in the Media essays

  1. Explain briefly Ninian Smart's seven dimensional model of religion. Do you think that ...

    Sharp also says that music is a powerful form of expression for many religions as is conversion of faith, Shamanistic visions, and being "born again" all of which are emotional experiences that provide meaning to the enactment of the ritual itself.

  2. Assess the sociological for / against view of secularisation occurring.

    Thus, one researcher might see the essential characteristic of religion as worship in a religious institution. As a result he or she may see a decline in church attendance as evidence of secularisation. Another might emphasise religious belief, which is seen as having nothing necessarily to do with attending a religious institution.

  1. Discuss the merits of theories of secularisation with regard to religion in modern Britain

    of religious activity (since the concept of secularisation involves the question of whether or not present-day societies are more - or less - religious than in the past). 4. In order to do this, we must also be able to define what we mean by such terms as "religious practice",

  2. Comparative Study of Voltaire's and Molière's Views on Religion in Candide and Tartuffe

    Many of Moli�re's views on religious religion and moderation are conveyed through Cl�ante's speeches, which are also the longest in the play: Those whose hearts are truly pure and lowly Don't make a flashy show of being holy. (Moli�re 27)

  1. "Modern Britain is a secular society" Discuss

    Sociologists such as Demereth and Hammond believe that religious beliefs cannot be measured by quantitative methods and should be studied by more qualitative methods. For example, religiosity, which is the extent to which religious belief influences a person's actions and values.

  2. 'Modern Britain is now a Secular Society.' To what extent do Sociological arguments and ...

    are no longer able to provide explanations to all questions, this forces religion to become privatised, creating a new 'crisis' Universe of Meaning by society. As Berger said "A sky empty of Angels becomes open to the intervention of the astronomer and eventually, the astronaut."

  1. Is There A Decline In Religion...In Today's Society?

    It would seem that fewer and fewer younger members are attending church-suggesting that eventually many congregations may die out altogether. In relation to my aim I will be looking at how the evidence of individuals from different age groups coincides with the results of religious practice.

  2. Religion in the media.

    Conclusion I myself do not watch much of Brookside, but I think that this episode was quite good and mot of my classmates had varied expressions on the episode. Eastenders Frank, who is married to Peggy and Pat, who is married to Roy commit adultery.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work