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11. Secularization in Europe: An Analysis of Inter-Generational Religious Change

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Chapter Summary

The social and personal significance of religion has declined in most developed countries during recent decades. Secularization appears to be a micro-level process, as well as a macro-level one, so that the late stages of modernization bring declines in religious practice, affiliation and belief. Voas constructed a religiosity scale using variables from the European Social Survey for religious affiliation, frequency of attendance and prayer, self-description as religious, and importance of religion in life. The fourth wave of the European Values Study (EVS) provides new evidence on religious change across the European continent. The generational nature of religious change is consistent with a close connection between religion and personal values. Inglehart and associated scholars have argued that the evolution of society from agrarian through industrial to post-industrial stages tends to produce corresponding shifts in how people are orientated: towards survival, rationality or self-expression.

Keywords: European Social Survey; European Values Study (EVS); Inglehart; modernization; religious change; secularization; Voas



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