Secularization: A Feature of Modern European Societies

Pages: 1 (540 words) Published: May 26, 2015
Assess the view that secularisation has been a feature only of modern European societies (33 marks) Secularisation is the continuous decline of religion practice, beliefs and institutions. However, defining the term is problematic for sociologists as it can have numerous definitions depending on the subjective view of the sociologist. There is also an argument on whether it varies depending on the society in which it is occurring in. Secularisation is a feature of modern European societies as shown in statistics that church attendance in 2005 had reduced to 6.3% from 50% in the 1800’s. This means that there is also a decline of church attendance, church marriages, increasing divorce rates and cohabitation. This is also supported by Wilson’s research as he found that there is a disengagement from the church as the State has started performing the functions that the church used to serve. For example, schools used to be influenced by the church but now they are controlled by the State which means some of them have lost their religious fervour. This shows that this is only a feature of modern European societies as other people in third world countries still go to church because they feel insecure with their lives due to natural disasters, disease and lack of food. This supports Norris and Inglehart’s existential security theory that those who feel less secure with their lives are more likely to carry on going to church as they feel that God will help them in their times of crisis. This shows that secularisation is happening in modern European societies as the majority have a sense of security over their lives and they depend on the state for welfare therefore they won’t really need religion. This is why in the past church attendance was higher as people in modern European societies weren’t secure of their own lives but post-industrialisation, the conditions of their lives improved so there was less need for the church. Secularisation is only happening in modern...
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