Sociology and Secularization

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There are many broad topics that are inserted into the main study of Sociology. Many traditional focuses include social stratification, modernity, culture, and deviance. There are two focuses, sociological imagination and secularization, which have been debated and researched through out the years. In C. Wright Mills’ article, The Sociological Imagination, he states the sociological imagination “enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals”(Mills, 15). This article states that there are many natural forces that influence a person’s life. Sociological imagination helps a person realize his place in society over the context of history and of the current era. This article is still considered one of the most influential statements of what sociology is all about. In Rodney Starks article, Secularization, R.I.P.-rest in peace, he discusses “over the past three centuries, social scientists and assorted western intellectuals have been promising the end of religion”(Starks, 1). Secularization refers to the change of a society from close religious belief to non-religious beliefs and that humans will eventually outgrow their belief in the supernatural. The purposes of the two articles are completely different; however they do have an indirect link. These two articles can be analyzed together because those natural effects that affect our own personal lives are what disprove secularization. These natural effects come from many different places, which is why modernization alone cannot lead to secularization.

C. Wright Mills wrote about the sociological imagination and how there are many unique forces that factor into the way a person conducts his life. There are three key questions that constitute the core of Mills' sociological imagination. These questions are the basic foundation for his hypothesis. He also suggests that people look at their own personal problems as social issues and try to connect their own individual experiences with the workings of society. The sociological imagination enables people to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues. There are many public issues that affect many individuals, such as poverty, for this is a natural factor.

Rodney Stark discusses the issue of secularization and how it is still discussed three centuries after it began. Secularization refers to the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values toward non-religious values. It refers to the belief that as societies progress, particularly through modernization and rationalization, religion loses its authority in all aspects of social life and governance. Stark provides many pieces of evidence that disagree with the theory of secularization. He believes that secularization is an exaggeration that has been passed over the years - a theory that will never come true.

Mills does not explain what research or methods he used to support his theory. Rather, he explains exactly what the sociological imagination is and how people have the ability to see their lives in perspective with the world around them. He uses many examples in his literature in order to connect with his reader. Mills claims that sociologists’ questions come from the same sources as the questions that ordinary people ask themselves. These questions come from personal experiences, and things that confuse, inspire, and make people think about their own lives and how it connects with society. He connects with his audience through his literature because it relates to a persons’ individual life and the problems that coincide. These problems arise from society and play a large role on an individual, which shapes their life one way or another. Starks uses many different facts, surveys, and other writings to disprove the theory of secularization. His article is based on information that extends over...
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