He was appointed a professor at Katholieke Universiteit in He has done important work in the area of the place of religion in the social fabric, and how secularization of religious roles in public institutions affects both society and religion. He has done fieldwork with Bryan R. Wilson in researching new religious movements and sects. His research fields have been in the effects of religious participation and in new religious movements and sects. He also has held visiting professorships at various institutions and universities worldwide.
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Wilson — there is no way of denying that most specific secularization theories also refer to a loss of significance of religion on the individual level, explicitly or implicitly, which may be prompted by macro-level differentiation and individualization, and which itself may affect the meso-level in the form of a steady decrease in church membership or attendance cf.
Dobbelaere As an explanation for this observed or expected micro-level secularization either one or both of two reasons are commonly given. This was the central argument of Peter L. Berger This concentration on the decline of institutionalized, established, church religiosity by early secularization theorists prompted some criticism. Luckmann Bellah Nevertheless, both Luckmann and Bellah agreed that the significance of conventional churches and denominations, as well as of personal substantively defined religious belief and activity, had diminished over the past decades.
The American Challenge An early critic of the view that modernity necessarily meant secularization, as pointed out by Linda Woodhead, was David Martin. But for critics of the secularization thesis this constituted largely a fiction. They argued that there had never been a time of universal and widespread religious belief and presented examples of medieval impiety as proof cf.
Bruce Yet attacks on secularization theory were not only directed against its depictions of the past, but also of the present, with the most prominent twofold challenge coming from the United States of America.
Firstly, the empirical situation in the U. Particularly surprising was that this situation was to be found in a highly modernized as well as religiously pluralized country. Secondly, starting in the U. Rodney Stark, Laurence R. Iannaccone, William S. Bainbridge, and Roger Finke wholeheartedly dismissed the idea of micro-level secularization. Stark, Bainbridge , Stark , Stark, Finke Those segments of society, for example, who took a specific interest in the supernatural promises of a religious brand — such as compensation in the afterlife for earthly suffering — would favor fundamentalist churches, because these, with their high costs for membership e.
For these religious searchers, a vibrant community of believers is seen as crucial, since, other than a congregation of lazy and sullen churchgoers, only this would be able to provide at least some testimony to a highly insecure and untestable expected reward, such as other-worldly promises. Iannaccone Religious vitality in Europe, on the other hand, was thwarted by a lack of religious choice and, in addition, a lack of incentives for pampered state church officials to make their regulated religious brand somewhat more appealing.
To the rational choice authors, the dearth of religious vitality in most of Europe has nothing to do with diminished demand, or individual secularization, but everything with insufficient supply.
Stark, Iannaccone , Stark, Finke Somewhat more moderate is the criticism by Christopher G. Ellison and Darren E. Sherkat They agree with Stark and his colleagues that people make their religious choices rationally, but doubt that they necessarily do so for inherently religious reasons. Instead, on many occasions, people would enter, remain in, or actively participate in specific churches with the reactions of others in mind — e. This would make individual-level secularization compatible with high levels of religiosity on the organizational level — people may remain active in churches for social reasons, without actually believing.
While overall in the United States there really existed a plurality of religions and denominations, at the local level, where people actually made their religious choices, this was not so. Adding a German language Lutheran church makes no difference to a Swedish American. Yet, Bruce does not doubt that many Americans actually are highly religious and practice their faith fervently and wholeheartedly.
Bruce , Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart offer a different explanation for why Americans seem to cling to religion in large numbers. Analyzing a range of international surveys and indices, they show that subjective religiosity is positively correlated with existential insecurity. In line with the classical view of Marx and Freud, but also with the rational choice theorists, they conclude that religion may serve as consolation or compensation.
Being and feeling more vulnerable to existential risks, Americans were more likely to turn to religion for solace and comfort than were citizens of other western nations. Conclusion Over the past decades, the secularization thesis has been discarded — but only insofar as it postulated an inevitable, universal, and uniform process. Theories of secularization have, instead, been refined. Both conditions depend on political and economic arrangements and are prone to change.
References Bellah, Robert N. Daedalus 96, Berger, Peter L. Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation. London: Collins. Bruce, Steve : Religion in the Modern World. From Cathedrals to Cults. Bruce, Steve : Choice and Religion. A Critique of Rational Choice Theory. Bruce, Steve : God is Dead. Secularization in the West. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Bruce, Steve : Secularization. In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory.
Oxford, UK: Blackwell. In: Swatos Jr. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Ellison, Christopher G. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 34, Iannaccone, Laurence R. In: American Journal of Sociology 99, New York: Macmillan. Martin, David : The Religious and the Secular. Studies in Secularization. Religion and Politics Worldwide. Sherkat, Darren E. In: Young ed. Summary and Assessment.
London, New York: Routledge, Stark, Rodney : Secularization R. Stark, Rodney and William S. Bainbridge : A Theory of Religion. Explaining the Human Side of Religion. Stark, Rodney and Laurence R. In: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 33, In: Laersmans et al. Leuven: Leuven University Press, Share this:.
Levensloop[ bewerken brontekst bewerken ] Dobbelaere behaalde zijn doctoraat in de sociale wetenschappen in aan de KU Leuven. Hij werd hoogleraar aan deze universiteit in en aan de Sint-Ignatiushogeschool in Antwerpen. Gedurende zowat vier decennia gaf hij mee gestalte aan de academische sociologie in Vlaanderen , en meer in het bijzonder aan de sociologie van Kerk en godsdienst. Hij bepleitte het bestaansrecht van een autonome en empirisch gefundeerde studie van Kerk en geloof, vanuit sociologisch perspectief. Karel Dobbelaere droeg bij aan het onderzoek over godsdienst en religie , Kerk en samenleving, en vooral ook over secularisatie en verzuiling.