• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30

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

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the merits of theories of secularisation with regard to religion in modern Britain INTRODUCTION The Aim of this Study Pack is provide an understanding of: 1. The question of whether or not secularisation is taking place / has taken place in modern, industrialised, societies. The Objectives of this Study Pack are to provide an understanding of: 1. The way in which the concept of secularisation can be operationalised through the use of three main indicators: a. Religious practice. b. Religious organisation. c. Religious belief. 2. Problems of definition associated with the concept of secularisation. 3. The reliability and validity of statistics relating to religious practice in Britain. 4. The relative level of influence exercised by the Church in "secular" societies Define what Secularisation is: The concept of secularisation is not, as we will see, a particularly easy one to come to terms with in relation to religious activity in any given society. To be sure it is a reasonably simple concept to describe, since it merely relates to the process whereby "religious activity" in any society progressively declines over time. For example, as the arch proponent of the secularisation thesis, Bryan Wilson, defines it ("Religion in Secular Society", 1966), secularisation is: "The process whereby religious thinking, practices and institutions lose their social significance". To put this another way, Peter Berger ("The Social Reality of Religion", 1969) argues that it is: "The process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols.". The concept of "institutions" in this respect relates to the way religion is socially-organised in any society, while the reference to "symbols" relates to particular religious beliefs and their presence or relative absence in any society. The "problem" to which I've just referred is not, as I've noted, particularly one of definition (although, as with most sociological concepts, definitions do vary); rather, it relates to the way we can, as sociologists, operationalise such definitions. ...read more.


� As valid as possible. That is: Paints an accurate picture of reality, Measures what it is intended to measure. We can begin by looking at membership levels of Christian organisations in Britain, since this is probably one of the strongest indicators of religious commitment. However, a couple of methodological points need to made: 1. Christian denominations (Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists and so forth) maintain an electoral roll of their members eligible to vote on policy decisions relating to the Church (you may recall that recently, for example, the members of the Church of England (Anglicans) voted to allow women to become vicars). 2. The Roman Catholic Church counts its members differently by simply including all those who attend mass as "members". From a pro-secularisation perspective, the most notable features of statistics on Christian Church membership this century is the remorseless decline in religious participation. In terms of the Christian religions, for example: There has been a 50% decline in membership this century. The percentage of the adult population as members of Churches has declined from 30% - 12%. The Church of England has seen its membership decline form 13.5% of the adult population to 4% of that population. The slight increase in Roman Catholic membership may be due to two things: a. The unreliable way in which membership is measured. b. The fact that the Catholic Church tends to exercise tighter controls over its members than the non-Catholic Christian Churches. From a pro-secularisation viewpoint, Church statistics show two things: 1. The percentage of Christian Church members (Church of England and Roman Catholic - The Trinitarian Churches) is relatively small in terms of the population as a whole (15% in 1992). 2. Church membership has declined significantly in the period covered by the figures. Although these figures need to be treated with care, it does seem safe to conclude that the membership of religious organisations is not only in general decline, but that this decline is progressive (one possible reason for this being that as older members die they are not being successfully replaced...). ...read more.


Sects, he argues, can only exist by offering "exotic novelty" to a "self-selected, self-obsessed and self-indulgent" few (mainly young and mainly middle class). The fact that such New Religious Movement's cannot make the transition from their (undoubted) appeal to the "disaffected few" to the majority in any society is, argues Wilson, evidence of the increasing levels of secularisation in Western societies. Finally in this respect, even in America where many of the New Religious Movements have arisen (considered in terms of the actual numbers of people involved), such sects have tended to be what Wallis has called the "world-affirming" type. That is, their members are members not because of any profoundly-held religious beliefs, but simply because they offer the chance for the powerless, the dispossessed and the disenchanted to "improve themselves" (either economically or spiritually) in this world. The religious content of such sects is seen to be fairly marginal, in that they represent a means towards the achievement of some form of "success" that has variously been denied to the sects' adherents. In this respect, such sects are not driven by fundamental religious values, as such, but by materialistic (that is, secular) values... To sum-up, therefore, the secularisation debate is an important one because it relates to questions concerning the significance of religion as an ideology in both modern and pre-modern societies. As a concept, it touches upon a wide range of questions that, in some shape or form, are sociologically important. However, it is debatable as to whether the concept of secularisation is, in itself, sociologically significant or useful. For a variety of reasons (not the least of these being methodological), it does not appear that the theory can be adequately tested. The questions raised through the use of the concept, however, are important. These include such things as: The significance of religion as a belief system. The relationship between beliefs and behaviour. The relationship between different types of religious organisation. The origin and social significance of New religious Movements. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1/30 ...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. To what extent were the witch hunts of the Early Modern Period the result ...

    Without doubt, everyone's religious ideas were being influenced and changed by what was going on around them. Concerning these changes, the Reformation caused a distinct change in the beliefs of the devil amongst the Protestant formers. Roman Catholics believed in the devil but had always believed they could defeat him, and had certain ways of protecting themselves from Satan's wickedness.

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

    and ridiculous and wonder whether he is really as pious as he seems. By satirizing Tartuffe's religious fanaticism, Moli�re advocates religious moderation, which is a central theme of Tartuffe. Moli�re expresses his approval of moderation through the voice of Cl�ante.

  1. Memoirs of our journey to acquire Religious freedom

    We all elected a spokesperson to persuade Captain William Sayle to became our leader. Preceding the persuasion of William Sayle we agreed to call our place of freedom Eleutheria. Today we set sail upon the high seas for the Bahamas.

  2. Describe the Variety of specifically religious programmes on the main television channels:

    B: "Television always presents religious people as out of touch with the modern world" Agree or Disagree: I do not agree with the statement that religious people are "always" shown out of touch with the modern world. As an overview, I would agree with the fact that some television writers

  1. Are the 10 commandments still relevant today?

    I try not to swear because I believe in God and I think that his name shouldn't be used that way. I don't think the commandment is very relevant to society because most people don't think they're harming anyone when they say it and it's just a word.

  2. religous education

    Their lives become more easier and better than before. Religious documentary Religious documentary is about famous people on a spiritual journey to search for spiritual fulfilment, relaxation, calm and peace for example the Holy Island off Northumbian coast. We also watched another video called paradise found which is an example of religious documentaries.

  1. A - Level sociology

    13 16 22 Methodist 25 30 38 Secularisation means the decline on religion, which si what I will be trying to find out in my coursework. Like Wilson used statistical data, I will also gather statistical data from my questionnaire.

  2. The falsification principle offers no real challenge to religious beliefs

    Braithwaite argued that religious claims are meaningful because a religious claim is primarily a moral claim expressing an attitude, and also it is different from a moral claim, as a religious one will refer to a story as well as an intention.

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