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Charles Jones

Lecture 6 – Tocqueville (Religion) October 29, 2012 Religion/Secularization 1) Hard to specify - Can it be understood objectively? - What is meant by religion? - Can religiosity be measured? - Sacred/profane: answers questions inevitably asked by humans (i.e. suffering, death) - Monotheism vs. polytheism, animism (spirits in inanimate objects) - Can it be studied scientifically? Objectively? Is it observable? o Too much subjective emotion entailed with religion - Sociologists don‟t study whether God/afterlife exists - Measures of religiosity: number of times attended church, how often you observe religious traditions, how much you know about the bible/Torah/Qu‟uran etc. 2) The secularization thesis: Peter Berger‟s theory - Profane, religion in modern world loses plausibility - Religion is private not public - Modernity = exposure to different beliefs/customs o More travel, globalization, media etc. - Therefore, how can all beliefs be valid? - New forms of social mixing: intermarriage of religions - 2 possible strategies for religious institutions: o Accommodation: accepting gay marriage etc. to stay relevant with the times o Entrenchment: maintain differences to solidify identity (i.e. dig heels in) - Both strategies will fail o Accommodation: loses distinctiveness, becomes too mainstream o Entrenchment: becomes marginalized, irrelevant to society - Therefore, religion is on the decline 3) The secularization thesis: some evidence - “if secularization is the road to modernity, it is bumpy” 4) Religion among the Huron: an enchanted world - Animistic religion, spirits in the environment, pervades daily trade, travel etc. - Evil spirits existed too - No well-defined sphere of religion (no shrines, churches etc.) instead, it pervaded every day life 5) Weber on the disenchantment of the world - Natives knew more about their environments than Germans, science/progression disconnects us from nature - The world is understandable (no mysteries) - The world is disenchanted because we understand the world scientifically and we don‟t employ religion to understand it - Rationalization of the world = disenchantment - Religion isn‟t ruled out completely, just plays a smaller role in society 6) Tocqueville on religion in the age of public opinion - Religion remains in certain areas (in America) -
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