No Matter How Much It Changes and Varies from Place to Place, People Always Need Religion. to What Extent Do Sociological Arguments and Evidence Support This View?

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  • Topic: Religion, Sociology of religion, Faith
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  • Published : December 12, 2012
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No matter how much it changes and varies from place to place, people always need religion. To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? 33 marks

The opposing argument to the view that people always need religion is that of secularisation. Defined by Bryan Wilson as 'the process whereby religious beliefs, practices and institutions lose social significance' Wilson notes that Western societies have been undergoing a long-term process of secularisation, meaning that religion is no longer needed by all people. Evidence to support this can be seen in Church attendance in Britain which was only 6.3% in 2005 halving from 10-15% in the 1960's. Sunday school attendance has also declined and now only a tiny proportion of children now attend. Our religious beliefs have also changed too, Robin Gill et al 1998 reviewed almost 100 national surveys from 1939 to 1996 showing a significant decline in belief in a personal god, and in traditional teachings about the afterlife and the bible. All of which leading Wilson to conclude that Britain has become a secular society. There is also evidence to say that secularisation is taking place in America too. Bruce identifies three sources of evidence to support his claim, declining church attendance with opinion polls exaggerating attendance by 47% in 1972 to 101% in 1996, secularisation from within meaning religion in America has remained popular by becoming less religious, and lastly religious diversity leading to the erosion of absolutism. This evidence from Britain and America opposes the view that people always need religion.

However secularisation theory can be criticised by the view that religion is changing rather than declining. Therefore supporting the view that no matter how much is changes and varies people always need religion. One advocate of this view is Grace Davie, in her view religion is simply taking a more privatised form. Where people still hold religious beliefs but attendance is a...
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