Assess the view that religion no longer acts as a ‘shared universe of meaning’ for people today (18marks)
Some sociologists would agree with this statement that religion no longer acts as a shared universe of meaning for people today and they explain this using secularisation. The word secular means not sacred, not spiritual and not religious therefore secularisation refers to the process of becoming less religious. Woodhead and Heelas identified two versions the disappearance thesis which states that modernity is bringing about the death of religion, the significance of religion is declining for both society and the individual and secondly the differentiation thesis which states religion is declining in social significance however is still significant in some people’s private lives and always will be. However in the House of Lords there are still bishops and archbishops, so a lot of political influence, as they pass and accept laws that potentially changes our world. Bruce (2002) states that the social significance of religion is declining, it no longer acts as a shared universe of meaning for people because it is being replaced with science and other ideologies. He backs up his work by looking at the power and prestige of religious institutions and how what was once the most important building, the church, can now be seen in ruins in being put to secular use for example in Bournemouth, Dorset, UK one church has been turned into a nightclub named ‘Halo’ and another has been turned into a Tesco Express. Lyotard (1984) who is a postmodernist states that a postmodern society is characterised by a loss of confidence in metanarratives – the big stories or grand explanations provided by science, religion and politics. This is because their claim to the truth has been questioned as there is now more than one answer and as a result of this traditional institutional religion has been undermined. Bauman goes further to say that this produces a ‘crisis of meaning’...
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