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Critically examine the statistical evidence that supports the Secularisation thesis.

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Introduction

Critically examine the statistical evidence that supports the Secularisation thesis. The issue of whether religion, religious thinking and religious institutions are retreating in significance, in contemporary society is among the most debated issues within sociology of religion and in society in general today. Secularisation thesis refers to the belief that as society becomes more modernised and advanced it has resulted in the decline of religion. The Secularisation thesis creates an important relationship between modernisation of society and the role of religion in it; arguing that modernisation of society linked with industrialisation, urbanisation etc leads to a decline in roles and authority of religion. For example in the past people use to live their lives in local communities were the church would have played a leading role but, because now people have moved towards towns and cities church attendances have declined. This suggests most shared values have been lost and rural values and beliefs have become somewhat outdated. Technological advances have reduced the number of things that needed to be explained in religious terms in the past. It has given individuals a greater sense of control over the natural world, and so there are fewer needs to rely on the super natural. ...read more.

Middle

also showed as in 2002 the total number of funerals that took place was 224, 800 whereas in 2008 only 188,100 took place declining by 3%. (www.cofe.anglican.org) In addition The British Social Attitudes Survey indicates those self-described as members of the Church of England consist of 23% of the population (40% in 1983). 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly. Also 62% of people in the UK never attend a religious service. ( www.humanism.org.uk) However, viewing people's attendances and looking at the involvement in institutionalised religion is not the only ways of measuring a person's religiosity and evidence of support in the secularisation thesis. The British Social Attitudes Survey shows that people who do not hold religious belief has increased overtime. The survey indicates that in the UK, those who profess no-religion have risen from 31% to 43% between 1983 and 2008. It also shows 37% of the UK population are sceptical, 35% have definite or doubtful. 25% of the UK population believe in God (however tentatively) and attend services (even less than once a year) ...read more.

Conclusion

I personally think that the Census on religion in UK is sometimes taken as a joke and people don't put reliable or honest answers down as they may not take it seriously. One other criticism is that religion has under gone a process of change rather than a process of secularisation. Institutional religion is only one form of religion and although this may be in decline, religion is not. Berger and Luckman (1963: cited in A.B. Thomas 2003) define religion as any way in which people make sense of the world. Religion is fuss a basic human activity because we all attempt to make sense of our lives and surroundings. Looking at it from this point religion can be seen as remaining strong in personal lives of individuals. Many surveys also suggest the lack of church attendance does not signify a lack of religiosity. The surveys suggest there has been a privatisation of religion. Bruce argues that increasingly many British Christians watch religious programmes to express their religiosity. Overall the problem with the secularisation thesis is that there is no agreement among sociologists on the meaning of religion and this ultimately determines the nature of secularisation. This debate is too problematic to form a clear conclusion. ...read more.

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