Secularisation Has Been a Feature of Only Modern European Societies

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Assess the view that secularisation has been a feature of only modern European societies (33 Marks) Secularisation can be defined as ‘the process whereby religious beliefs, practices and institutions lose social significance’. Secularisation is a feature of modern European societies, such as Britain. Weber has identified that church attendance on Sundays has dropped from 10%-15% to 6% in 2005, church weddings and baptisms as well as Sunday school attendance have also declined. Wilson has highlighted that a feature of modern European societies is the drop in church attendance on Sundays. Most recent research conducted shows that attendance is projected to drop from 6.3% to 4.7% by 2015. This feature has also been reflected in the English Church Census that attendance in the Church of England and Catholic Church has declined. Secularisation is now not only just a feature in Europe as it has now featured in the USA, public polls have suggested that 40% of Americans attend church however research carried out by the church did not match the figure in the polls. If 40% of Americans were going to church, the churches would be full – but they were not. Therefore this tells us that secularisation has developed in other societies across the world not just in Europe. However sociologist Davie suggests that in modern society, especially across Northern Europe, people ‘believe without belonging’. Davie sees religion as taking a privatised form, and although churchgoing has declined, it does not reflect the religious beliefs, as she believes we now have people believing without belonging, where people hold religious beliefs but do not attend church. Davie believes that believing without belonging is a result of change in commitment regarding religion as attendance is now a matter of choice, rather than compulsory, people are adapting religion to suit them, Davie notes that
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