Assess the View That Religious Beliefs and Practices Are Changing to Reflect a New Era of Diversity and Choice

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Assess the view that religious beliefs and practices are changing to reflect a new era of diversity and choice (33 marks) In recent years some sociologists have claimed that the west is becoming more secular. Secularisation is where religious belief, practiced and institutions loose social significance. There has been evidence to suggest that church attendance and the number of baptisms and church weddings are declining. However some sociologists reject secularisation theory and argue that religion is simply changing, rather than declining. They believe it is changing as a result of changes in wider society, such as, greater individualism and consumerism, or a shift from modern to late modern or postmodern society. Grace Davie believes that religion is not declining, but is just taking a different, more privatised from. This is due to people no longer going to church because they feel they have to or because it is respectable to do so. Churchgoing has declined because attendance is now a matter of personal choice rather than an obligation, as it used to be. Therefore she believes people are now believing without belonging, people still hold religious beliefs but don’t go to church. Thus, the decline of traditional religion is matched by the growth of a new type of religion. Furthermore Davie rejects secularisation theory’s assumption that modernisation affects society in the same way. Instead there are multiple modernities. However there are some critics of her theory of believing without belonging. Voas and Crockett produce evidence from the British Social Attitudes survey showing that both church attendance and beliefs in God are declining. If Davie were right there would be higher levels of beliefs. Burce adds that if people are not willing to invest time in going to church it reflects the declining strength of their beliefs. He states when people no
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