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A Sociological Perspective On The Public Significance Of Religion: From Secularization To ‘Publicization’

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to reframe sociological debate about the public significance of religion. It states that religion is having a significant public impact in a diverse range of contemporary societies, and in particular that its images, symbols, narratives and discourses are being widely circulated in contemporary media systems. The chapter argues that while sociological theory has focused on the 'social', there is a need for sociological theory focused on explaining the public, in this case the factors that shape the public significance of religion, which might be called a theory of religious publicization. It also argues that while secularization theory correctly identifies key social processes as having a significant impact on the social significance of religion, its account is partial both because these processes do not necessarily cause a decline in the social significance of religion, and because contrary processes can be identified to each of the major secularization processes.

Keywords: public significance; religious publicization; secularization; sociological theory



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