Secularization as declining religious authority


Journal Article

Secularization is most productively understood not as declining religion, but as the declining scope of religious authority. A focus on religious authority (1) is more consistent with recent developments in social theory than is a preoccupation with religion; (2) draws on and develops what is best in the secularization literature; and (3) reclaims a neglected Weberian insight concerning the sociological analysis of religion. Several descriptive and theoretical “pay-offs” of this conceptual innervation are discussed: New hypotheses concerning the relationship between religion and social movements; the enhanced capacity to conceptually apprehend and empirically investigate secularization among societies, organizations, and individuals; and clearer theoretical connections between secularization and other sociological literatures. Ironically, these connections may indeed spell the end of secularization theory as a distinct body of theory, but in a different way than previouslyappreciated. © 1994 The University of North Carolina Press.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chaves, M

Published Date

  • January 1, 1994

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 72 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 749 - 774

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1534-7605

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0037-7732

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/sf/72.3.749

Citation Source

  • Scopus