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Chapter Summary

This chapter is devoted to a discussion of the secularization debate between and among sociologists and historians. This work falls into the category of Anglo-American scholarship that is skeptical of the secularization thesis. Demand for deaconesses among potential beneficiaries and employers is particularly relevant because defenders of the secularization thesis argue that the theory at its heart focuses on a decrease in the demand for religion, whether it is a demand for religious rituals and worldviews or a demand for the social services of religious institutions and professionals. Two themes that emerges in the discussion are the religious orientation of the female diaconate and the challenges and obstacles that deaconesses faced in their quest to wield influence in the public sphere. The case of the female diaconate in Sweden clearly shows that religious organizations and personnel were not always victims of modernization; sometimes, they were beneficiaries of it.

Keywords: Anglo-American; deaconesses; female diaconate; historians; modernization; religion; secularization; sociologists; Sweden



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