revised secularization thesis

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Revised secularization thesis

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SPATIAL ASSIMILATION THESIS

Thompson talked about, seriously impairing the concept's bite in its systematic content, as well as causing even more serious lesions to the status of irreversibility of the process itself, in its harsh factuality, primary target as it is of the attack that nowadays, in all four corners of the world, has been aimed at the "theory" or "thesis" of secularization by a large handful of social scientists non-secularized themselves?

And I mean enchantments "from this world", not from "the other world", the Beyond. Nowadays, for many cultural anthropologists and sociologists of religion, in Brazil, in the Southern Cone, throughout Latin America, North America, Asia, Europe Western and, a fortiori , post-communist Europe which has recently come out of a political situation of secularization forced by a Marxist-Leninist state imposition secularization "has had its day". The more self-confident talk about de-secularization ; the more astute talk about post-secularization.

Its author, Filippo Barbano, in the preface to Luigi Berzano's book Differenziazione e Religione Negli Anni 80 Barbano, , identifies in post-modernity, understood as a global crisis of modernity, the ideal moment for the reformulation of sociological theories of religion, seeing that for the most part they are debtors to the doctrinairism of Weberian theory of secularization.

The aim is to practice a sociology that recognizes the capacity demonstrated by religion to resist the jagged attack of modernity. Nowadays, while modernity soaks, religion makes its invigorated comeback. Along with it emerges, in certain sociological circles, the demand for a new sociology of religion. One less unfair upon its pulsating object of study, less prejudiced against the sacred, inasmuch as the radical criticism of religion constitutes modernity, not post-modernity.

The new signifying term "post-secular" aims to unfold the idea of post-modernity precisely in this direction. Everything takes place as if the very "post-modern condition" were presenting itself to us sociologists of religion as the intellectual condition favorable for the relinquishment of the hypothesis of secularization. Which, let it be said, is always a pessimistic hypothesis for religious men and women, enjoying nowadays frank and cheerful religious self-affirmation Berger, And because Weber in his sociology verified , more than he thought, the retraction of religion in a direct ratio to the advance of capitalist modernization, Barbano et caterva do not hesitate in postulating an explicit rupture with Weber.

They wish upon a post-Weberian sociology of religion for a post-secular society: "Our current day and age, of differential post-secular effects of secularization, seems to also impose a rupture with the Weberian point of view that linked disenchantment, that is, secularization, with modernization.

For some, including Stefano Martelli, and not just by chance another Italian see also this other: F. Crespi, ,. A characteristic of the "post-modern" is that it lacks those firm positions that lent the secularization thesis so much vigor. Martelli, , p. In these last three decades of the XX century, the last quarter of the most secularized century of all centuries, religions have regained vigor, expanding and multiplying themselves considerably.

Visibly so. These are the so-called de-secularization phenomena that some authors talk about with such certainty that I am tempted to call them neotheists. Finke and Stark, ; Warner, The return of the sacred, a religious-communitarian re-energizing of culture and civil society in central Europe, precipitated the end of real socialism.

If this is so, then religion has not died! Religion has not died, quite the contrary. The contrary has indeed become "the" empirical fact that legitimately interests someone who, as a sociologist, chose religion, religions, and religious ways of life as the object of study. In other words: religion has come back, and this coming back from secularization ce revenir ; cf. Schlegel, is one of the great social factors that today sanctions precisely the "post-" of post-modernity.

Since one of the segments of sociology that most grows in the world today, and Brazil is no exception to the rule, is the sociology of religion, we enjoy today greater access to allegedly trustworthy data and documentation, which increase each day, about the most diverse forms of religious belief today, many of which are extremely dynamic. But so what? Without asking further questions, those who are most enthusiastic hurry to commemorate what they quickly identify as "clear phenomena of de-secularization" Martelli, , p.

And among these "clear phenomena", the most conspicuous example cited is that of the proliferation of new forms of religious life which sociological literature has gathered under the heading New Religious Movements NRMs , this growing multiplicity of extra-ecclesiastical, para-ecclesiastical, and non-ecclesiastical religious manifestations and groupings that more modern western societies have seen rise and proliferate from the early s.

The eclipse that the end of the XX century would witness is no longer the one that half way through the same century was deemed, quite reasonably, the "eclipse of the sacred" Acquaviva, , but is instead its opposite, "the eclipse of secularization". It is not without reason that enthusiasts are calling the return of the sacred, "God's revenge" Kepel, And not rarely, attributed to an "outdone" Max Weber.

Outdone because out of date. It is worth hearing what has been said in sociology of religion circles in Brazil, in order to garner an idea about the large wave created by defenders of religious re-enchantment of the world:. Weber's analyses were valid for a period of Western history that has come to an end: the height of rationality in a disenchanted world, marked by the exile of the sacred. More recently we are experiencing a period called "return of the sacred" or "God's revenge", where the world is, somehow, becoming re-enchanted.

Even if we take into consideration Third World reality in general, and Brazil's in particular, where the sacred has persisted, it cannot be denied that religion has undergone a process of revitalization, parallel to the First World's re-enchantment. Or rather, right here on the outskirts of capitalism disenchantment of the world never occurred, is that it?

Then we continue to live in a magic garden, is that right? Meanwhile, developed societies are being re-enchanted as a counter-attack. As we can see, the revenge of the religious sociologists of religion is to be feared, and not that of God. They are having their heyday. But, one should ask, was religion ear-marked to die in the final chapter of Weber's "great narrative" of the macro-process of western rationalization, Christianity having been secularized by virtue of its own internal developments, of the logical unfolding of its own religious world image, victim of the astuteness of the religious introversion that he produced and ended up giving in technical-scientific and technical-functional reason?

Never is it overdoing to remember that Max Weber was always metatheoretically opposed to closed predictions with nomological pretensions in Hegelian-theological genre of philosophy of history. How then can we attribute "the historic end of religion" to him? How can we talk about unfulfilled Weberian prophecies?

It remains that current critics of the theory of secularization do an extremely shallow, and silly, teleological, reading of his work, which is to say, their reading "does not match with Weber", is incoherent with all those things recent scholarship on Weber has produced and has been handed to us in the growing numbers of publications dealing with the issue. They attribute to Weber, without his consent, a closed prognosis of the emaciation of religion in modern society in the direction of the linear advance of formal-instrumental rationality, a prophecy which has not come to pass.

As if to say that Weber did not scoff at academic prophecies In a short article in the supplement Mais! One day, while sitting on an examining board, the candidate said something that I immediately wrote down, because of the power of what was said and because of the "scientific" serenity that the student exuded: "Instead of the predicted secularization of modern society , the current religious panorama shows us that the gods were not eradicated". And there you have, in a few words, the self-deception syndrome that haunts the sociology of religion, that I talked about on another occasion Pierucci, This means that there are even sociologists that cannot even make an appeal for "post-secularization", seeing that, as far as they are concerned, the "announced secularization" never took place, in the same way that for others, there was never disenchantment in the Third World.

As you can see, we must be doing very well. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that Max Weber spoke about secularization. There's no way of saying that secularization, as part of a societal process of differentiation of cultural-institutional spheres, is not part of the mainstream in which Max Weber copiously discharges his disturbed thinking Weber, c, from now on ZB , in the obstinate and acknowledged vocation of the scientist to fulfill, on the existential plane of personality and profession, the fatum of western civilization: of kneeling before the unquestionable value, as well as before the limits, of science.

In the name of science the scientist Weber resigns from the supra-sensible in decisive refusal of the "sacrifice of the intellect" Weber, , from now on WB , without letting go of the irrational values of "this world", such as political ideals, art and beauty, sexual love, life ZB. The lexicographical exam of his texts uncover scarce use of the word secularization, this prosaic name that already, by the looks of things, does not seem to have much appeal.

Once upon a time. In neo-Kantian terms, religion, which had previously been a central force in cultural life, was now de-valued. It had much less value than before, much less cultural weight. Inside the present horizons, daily experience was of a much more secularized social order and cultural life.

Faced with the advance and development of the scientific methodologies applied to sociology by professional social scientists at the start of the XX century, it could only be expected that the way of looking at the process of secularization would also change, and from this moment on would not only be considered and thought about, but also observed. And the Weberian registry is as historiographic as it is sociological, well equipped with demands for scientific objectivity, and charged with no longer creating or assembling visions of the world, avoiding the temptation of the Weltanschauungen.

Greater attention paid to factual observation of the multiple ways of living religiously, which Weber dedicated himself to as a scientist, results like never before in a more complex and motley picture of the different rhythms of secularization Guizzardi and Stella, And it will allow for what, in my view, is the most precious Weberian contribution to the thesis of secularization: the capacity to convincingly put on show the interface between religious rationalization and legal rationalization.

Religious rationalization, that sets off, unfolds and accompanies in the West the disenchantment of the world, implies, or supposes, though not necessarily identifying itself with, legal rationalization which on its own performs the disenchantment of Law, the de-sacralization of the legal order, and sets up the modern secular state as the place where Law rules supreme. In fact, right at the end one finds, in a reserved tone, the following phrase: "The modern man is in general, even with the best will, unable to give religious conscience a significance for the conduct of life, culture and national character which it had [in the past].

According to Weber, the men of his time were simply unable to imagine how much the West had already been religious. Max Weber's sociology reiterates this several times: secularization is something that has already happened , and, as a result, no longer requires sociologists to value it, or wish it, or regret it. The intention is more modest. It is not a matter of predicting, of projecting, but of objectively documenting the change. Jahrhunderts ]" PE, p. Schluchter, , p.

Whoever, in terms of the more substantial and significant processes of decision-making, personally experiences the secularization of the state 6 6 Weber never wrote the phrase "secularization of the state". Weber did this.

He treated the thing as a fact of modernity. There is no way of doubting this. The thematic contents of Weber's work are saturated with this motif of "two times", motif already explicit in , when The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism was published, and recurrently encountered in all subsequent theorizations tied to the process of secularization, in and out of his Essays on the Sociology of Religion GARS.

Two times: 1 a past time, time of influential religiosity and a strong ecclesiality,where "the Beyond is all" that matters to human beings, and 2 the present time, Weber's present as it was at the turn of the XX century, but also our present as we see it now, the time we live in, we social scientists who work in a vocation Berufsmenschen , we, "utilitarian heirs" utilitarischen Erbin of this "era of gaily dressed religiosity" that was the begining of modernity.

As religious, according to historian Lucien Febvre , as the XVI century which was "a century that wanted to believe". In this respect it is also worth taking a look at Jean Delumeau's work, that registers historiographically the intense "Christianization through fear" that European populations experienced in the beginning of modern times Delumeau, and And, as it stands, makes much more sense to Weber.

After all, he is the author of the concept of disenchantment of the world Entzauberung der Welt and the appearance of this molto particolare word is much more widespread than the appearance of the word secularization. The version I present of the authorship of the syntagma Entzauberung der Welt as being Weber's own I learned it verbatim from Wolfgang Schluchter, current professor of the Max Weber chair at the University of Heidelberg.

Moreover, other Weber specialists guarantee that he borrowed it ipsis litteris from Schiller, in the same way that he took from Goethe the phrase Wahlverwandschaften, "elective affinities" Ghosh, , p. Weber used to borrow vocabulary from the high German literature.

At least once, and in this case as an adjective, Weber used the idea of de-deification, when he mentions the "de-deified mechanism of the world". In them is written " mecanismo de un mundo sin dioses", " mecanismo de um mundo sem deuses", which we can see is quite different from the idea of "the world's de-divinized mechanisms" cf.

Weber, , p. Full marks and praise to the Italian translation: " mecanismo sdivinizzato del mondo" p. This process would appear described succinctly and dated in a later insertion, made in by Weber himself, for the last edition of The Protestant Ethic cf. Tenbruck, , originally published, as everyone knows, in Tenbruck, , p. The insertion says the following: "That great historical-religious process of disenchantment of the world, which had begun with the prophets of ancient Judaism and, in conjunction with Hellenistic scientific thought, had repudiated all magical means to salvation as superstition and sacrilege, came here to its fulfillment" PE, p.

And the puritanical sects, in the pioneering age of the historic birth of the modern civilization of work, were their radical and self-confident messengers, their religious finishing line that paved the way for actions that led to the primacy of modern science, "the fate of our times", which reduces our world to a mere causal mechanism without any meaning in itself WB.

Secularization and disenchantment: critics tend to treat them as synonyms, and to accept them though not always as being equivalent. Refer to Filippo Barbano's phrase that assumes that both terms are synonymous: "Our current era, of the differentiated post-secular effects of secularization, seems to also force a rupture with the Weberian point of view that connected disenchantment, that is, secularization with modernization" Barbano, ; my italics.

This is why it is always worth reminding theoretically more reckless interpreters that the different terms also have different meanings with Max Weber, however subtle these may be. Indeed, they are more than subtle. The terms do not say the same thing, they do not cover the same area and they do not deal with the same issue.

For Weber, the disenchantment of the world takes place precisely in more religious societies, and it is an essentially religious process , because it is the ethical religions that provide the elimination of magic as a means of salvation. As is also explained in this other passage of The Protestant Ethic , in which Weber establishes stylistically, with the use of a colon, the following equation: "the disenchantment of the world: the elimination of magic as a means of salvation.

Secularization, on the other hand, implies abandonment, reduction, subtraction of religious status ; signifies sortie de la religion Gauchet, ; it is defection, a loss for religion and an emancipation. It is with this meaning that Weber refers, in his essay on sects, to the process of secularization. Used this way, it is a result, a consequence, in a way a finishing point, a logical conclusion of the historical-religious process of disenchantment of the world. For Weber, the process of rationalization is larger and farther reaching than the disenchantment of the world and, in this way, embraces it; the disenchantment of the world, for its turn, has a history that is longer, and more extensive than that of secularization and, in this way, includes it.

It is worth noting that Weber really makes a distinction between the different processes. With both these processes intertwined in the process of modernization, the effect of the latter on religion cannot be anything other than negative, seeing as it consolidates and promotes the advance of disenchantment of the world through increased rationalization of political domination which is, as we will see later when we deal with Weber's sociology of law, irresistibly secularizing.

Notwithstanding, it has become usual in the present day to shuffle the two concepts, at the same time that it has almost become a unanimity to consider Max Weber "the" author of the theory of secularization or at least its greatest exponent Matthes, ; Rendtorff, ; Luhmann, ; Martin, ; Seyfarth, ; Dobbelaere, , and ; Wilson, , , and Among current social scientists interested in religion, mention theory of secularization, and you are mentioning Weber.

The truth is that some prefer to call it a "thesis" of secularization, not a "theory" of secularization, to keep it clear that they are denying his work the status of a distinct theoretical body of work, or to make it clear that they seriously doubt it. Blumenberg, ; Marramao, and There is not enough room here to open this discussion.

It is as if they wanted to say "the King is naked", but they are not innocent enough to say it; they lack that child-like spontaneity found in Andersen's tales, in as much as, deep down, the critics of secularization have also become aware that they are irredeemably disenchanted. They would like to be ironical, but instead they project, in the psychoanalytic meaning of the word: the scientific theory of secularization is nothing more than a belief, a credo, "a doctrine which is more than a theory " Hadden, , p.

Jeffrey Hadden, in formulating a pseudo-criticism in the most forceful manner, states that "a close examination reveals that there really is not any type of theory there" Hadden, , p. And if not that, then intellectual deceit. Or a myth Ferrarotti, Those who support and accept the theory act and apply it as if it were a theoretical paradigm in the proper sense of the word, associating it volentieri to the great Weberian theory.

Here, the theory of secularization is treated by researchers and scholars as a supporting beam for every and any sociology of religion approach which is deemed Weberian cf. Dobbelaere, , and ; Lechner, ; Crippen, and ; Wilson, and and which, beyond this, is intended to be scientifically respectable due to its automatic casting of its functions not only over empirical data but also, and preeminently, over general theory.

In this case, a general theory of the structural change from traditional societies to modern societies which, at the end of the day, according to Habermas, 14 14 Habermas says in the introduction to the Theory of Communicative Action: "Sociology has become the science of crises par excellence, a science that essentially dedicates itself to the formation of modern social systems and the anomic aspects linked to the decomposition of traditional systems" Habermas, , p.

Frank Lechner's commentary about the affiliation of Weberian theory of secularization sums it up well:. The theory of secularization is a general theory of societal change and consists of a coherent empirical body of empirical generalizations that lean on fundamental Weberian premises.

According to these familiar premises, in certain societies the world view and institutions anchored in transcendence lose social and cultural influence as a result of the dynamic of rationalization [ Lechner, , p. He forgot to mention, as a safety measure, Weber's scarce use of the word. My point of departure in this essay lies specifically in this, in underlining the fact that the Weber that we have before us makes a habit of talking about a thing without calling it by its name, a trait of his that drew out in me the appetite of a philologist.

Let us return to the name, to the word on the screen, with a view to speculating a little more about the lesson we can learn from its use by Max Weber. Marramao, , p. For a person unanimously considered the "theory's father", the few, even scarce times that Weber uses the term never cease to be intriguing.

Because the use of the word is so rare, it becomes easier to account for its appearances throughout Weber's work. And that is what I have done, hoping that the mere distribution of its frequency in Weber's writings could, in and of itself, have something important to say.

The fact is that most of those scarce occasions in which Weber used the word "secularization" appear in his sociology of law , in the long and almost never fully read chapter VII of the second part of the first volume of Economy and Society , entitled Rechtssoziologie Weber, , from now on WuG, pp. The search for the word secularization yielded eight mentions in this chapter, each discussing the idea in a rich variety of levels and different aspects.

And all concentrated in a space of approximately 40 pages, when in truth the essay as a whole has more than pages. Though the reading is arduous, 15 15 There are those who may consider this Weber's essay "almost unintelligible", a type of " hodge-podge of ideas and observations", an uncooked medley of ideas and observations, randomly thrown together, "in such a manner that the reader moves from one topic to another, one level of generality to another, without really seeing the connection between them all" Kronman, , quoted by Zeitlin, , p.

As befits the aim of this article, it is worth emphasizing the fact that the Christian church and its holy laws have become increasingly differentiated and separated from secular law-making cf. The level of distinctness presented at the very start of capitalist modernization by this specific separation of normative spheres cleared the way for the imposition of laws that could only emanate legitimately from secular authorities and which, beyond this, paved the way for the logical development of juridical formalism, tied in intimate elective affinity to "ideal interests" or to use jargon which is even more markedly Weberian, to "intrinsic intellectual necessities" of theoretic jurists and their disciples at the Schools of Law, so much in vogue during early Medieval times.

Weber stresses for a reason that modern law's essential trait is its systematic character , in great part due to modern law being, quite specifically, "a law made by jurists" Habermas, , p. In the final section of the essay, dedicated to the formal qualities of modern law, Weber himself draws a synthetic picture of the rationalization of juridical practices and concepts in the West.

Here are the four stages of the Weberian scheme for juridical rationalization:. The general development of law and the process can be laid out in the following "stages of theoretical development": 1 first, charismatic revelation of law through "law prophets" [ Rechtspropheten ]; 2 second, empirical creation and finding of law by legal honoratiores , i.

WuG, p. These are the general outlines of the process and, at the same time, rudimentary traits of the general script that Weber follows in his elaboration of the sociology of law. The path taken by rationalization processes in Weber's sociology is neither mechanical nor linear, nor does it keep from being "evolutionary" cf.

Seyfarth, , developmental cf. Schluchter, and The stages are not established ahead of time, there are detours, and the final result is not characterized like a telos predetermined to be reached. The process takes place on the way and the stages, like the detours, are identified ex post and objectively by the researcher. The point of departure is always sacral ; the finishing line is always desacralized.

Each cultural sphere of value, in the internal rationalization process, takes the same path but with a different script cf. Without any historical necessity that it be so. Disenchanted logical-rational formalism championed by law in the final yards of high modernity began to develop "based on a combination" of irrationalities already current in the primitive juridical process: "a combination of magically conditioned formalism and irrationality conditioned by revelation".

A tendency towards formalism becomes dominant, which in turn recovers the direction taken by the process in terms of a "growing systematization and specialization of juridical rationalization". In the final stage, the formal qualities of law, "at least from a purely external point of view", stresses Weber, end up taking shape in the contemporary form of an "increasingly logical sublimation and increasingly deductive power, and develop an increasingly rational technique of juridical procedure" WuG, pp.

In this way, Weber is describing in other words the stages already identified. More than once, however, he appointed himself the task of identifying and defining four stages in this long trajectory. The general picture of juridical rationalization, whose unfolding Weber charts throughout a text that does not exactly exude clarity and which contains the eight passages that we are concerned with here, could just as easily be subtitled "disenchantment of law".

Or even, "disenchantment of the law". Schluchter, by analogy with the "disenchantment of the paths of salvation", forged before the rest of us, the symmetrical expression "disenchantment of the legal paths". Which Habermas , p. Habermas achieves the feat of retranslating the four stages into three: "Weber rebuilds an evolution that starts from revealed law, passes through traditional law and ends up in modern law.

Unlike Habermas's ternary scheme, Weber's contains the most important steps taken in this development, which are simultaneously objectively and theoretically construed, but which, it is worth noting, do not follow on in historic reality in the same order nor with the same disposition as the three moments mentioned by Habermas, without one or the other of the four stages occurring.

What, from my point of view, is interesting is the direction taken by the process: towards a growing autonomy of law in relation to the irrationality of religiously revealed ancient law. Accompanying the developmental line of the field of law and legislation, Weber goes on to note a common element in western juridical-legal innovations: the adoption of techniques which are always rational instead of stereotypical magical formulae and "charismatic revelations of the law", in other words, replacing divinely revealed laws, and so abandoning old procedural approaches endemic to ancient law, dismissed now as irrational, uncertain, incoherent and arbitrary practices Walton, ; Brubaker, , that are, furthermore, stuck in the sacredness sometimes absolute of tradition.

Such an apprenticeship, "has only been fully realized in the West" WuG, p. That said, let us examine the different meanings under which secularization appears in this chapter. Let us examine the different connotations it ends up acquiring in the different contexts of the same Weberian text. Passage 1. The first time it appears, the content of the word secularization has an eminently technical meaning: expropriation of ecclesiastical goods. Content circumscribed to the ever tense planes of the relationships between religious and political communities, and even more specifically, to the plane of intricate material relations "of the law" between priests and polis.

Secularization of the cult represents, in this passage, the expropriation of the temple's goods, after this moment in time considered to be property of the polis. Hierocratic goods have become secularized. We will see further on that it is precisely with this technical meaning that the word came to be used in the dawn of modern time, during the wars of religion.

Passage 2. This passage is key to Weber's sociology of law. Habermas comments that, in the evolution of law, the normative accord ends up having to suffer a dislocation, that is, ends up needing to transform itself from a deal "supposed by tradition" to an accord "communicatively reached", which is what Weber defines as an agreement. But the process of juridical rationalization does not stop there.

Contrary to this, it would remain in what is still a very casuistic and empirical level of jurisprudence. The level of theoretical jurisprudence still has to be reached which, in contrast to empirical jurisprudence, attempts to submit its materials to the formal logic of the especially scholarly theoretical jurists, capacitated by this to build juridical systems , characterized by the high degree of formal rationality cf. Berman, It is worth, in keeping with the specificities of this passage, performing a synopsis to connect us to a twin passage, located in another chapter of Economy and Society , that deals with the sociology of religion , precisely in the section about the prophet , one of the points of the ideal-typical triangle "sorcerer-priest-prophet" WuG, v.

I, part II, chap. The sorcerer, as member of an enterprise of salvation with an associative community-like nature, is legitimized by his office; the prophet, like the charismatic sorcerer, acts singularly in virtue of extraordinary personal gifts. The prophet distinguishes himself from the sorcerer by the fact that the substance of his mission does not consist in self-interested manipulation of sacred powers, but in ethical doctrines or imperatives WuG, p.

This is vital to the whole of Weber's sociology. The sorcerer enchants, and makes a living from enchantments produced by strictly following traditional formulae; the prophet disenchants, expels enchantments and the enchanted, as well as those that enchant. He desacralizes. He is an iconoclast. In view of this, the sharp distinction Weber establishes between the prophet, on the one side, and the priest and the sorcerer, on the other, ends up playing a crucial role in the drawing up of a desacralizing vector of the nature of prophecy.

According to Giacomo Marramao's happy formulation , p. And so, it is in this precise context of the sociology of religion, amidst a profusion of topical examples with which he enjoys illustrating his essays, that Weber, in the same way that he does in the sociology of law, sends the reader back again to the Australian aborigines to call "secularization" the relinquishment of the ancestral practice of taking into consideration during lineage-chief reunions ear-marked for the formulation of new decisions with normative strength, in specific regions of Australia revelations made to sorcerers in their dreams.

The fact, says Weber, of this use falling into disuse constitutes a "secularization", although it does not constitute the main body of the process of secularization that sweeps across the West with modernization. It is worth noting, in this passage, that "secularization" is placed inside quotation marks. Writes Weber: "Originally, it was difficult to have a reorganization of community relations without previously consulting the witch-doctor.

We stand before the secularization of juridical thought. Nothing better than an armed revolution, with its political radicalism and motivational density, to emancipate juridical and legal practices from traditional mental structures, from magically shaped thought, and thus propel the secularization of juridical norms to a superior level, to the level of the discussion of the very claim for validity of these norms.

Having achieved this crossing, such a post-traditional stage of thought is reached, itself the condition for the possibility of not only moving forward, in juridical terms, the adoption of rational procedures and techniques, but also, and principally, of rationally founding the validity of norms without having to call upon the sanctity of tradition or supra-sensitive and irrational forces. In order to carry out, successfully, the conception of the very foundations of the validity of law, it is evidently necessary to possess some skill in abstraction, in intellectual refinement.

Or rather, in Weber's sociology, theoretical rationalization signifies and implies intellectualization. This is basic. The influx of political factors will not suffice, moreover, even if they possess extraordinary radicalism and the creating force of an armed revolution.

With university-taught law, advances in rationality are more than just practical, like the examples cited for Australia, they are theoretical and meta-theoretical. The more that juridical training becomes restricted to this "academic model" of producing jurists, which we all know consists of an institutionalized educational enterprise with a special inclination towards theory, or better put, towards abstract theorization, the more one can expect the constant increase of chances to rationalize law in the direction of ever increasing formalizations systematization, structurization, articulation, unification, homogenization, abstraction, universalization, etc.

Without forgetting, meanwhile, as Hubert Treiber , p. This is what Weber suggests with respect to the high level of formalism and technicality found in Roman law, so much more rationalized in a logical sense than medieval law, much more immune than the latter to substantive considerations, even those religious in nature.

In Weber's work, juridical rationalization is carried out, above all else, with increasing formal rationality. He speaks of "law's ambivalent rationalization" Habermas, , pp. This is a vectorial resultant of a dialectic game between formal rationality and substantive rationality Treiber, ; Habermas, , a problem that he tries to unravel especially when he discusses whether the development of juridical-political institutions is or is not determined, and to which extent it is, by economic conditions; as well as dealing with the question of the demands of material justice which democratic movements of negatively favored classes champion in advanced capitalism, interested, as a rule, in the re substantivation of law and its laws, unhappy with the bourgeois equivalence of notions of justice and formal juridical equality.

At the end of the affair, nevertheless, the dominance in the process of rationalization in law is really grasped by formal rationality. As Brubaker says, in Weberian theorization formalism is to modern juridical rationality what calculability is to capitalist rationality Brubaker, , p.

Weber habitually associates theoretical-formal rationalization with the idea of sublimation, another vocabulary loan in which the term undergoes a peculiar shift of meaning. According to him, juridical concepts, like religious concepts, underwent a process of sublimation in the West. But, to get to this result, "what was really decisive, before anything else, was the complete secularization of the administration of the system of justice " EyS, p.

Herein, says Weber, lies the great explanatory force. In doing this in the field of law, there is no way of eluding the extremely direct relation existent between juridical-legal formalism that slowly takes over western law and the systematic schooling of jurists in Schools of Law. In other words, that training in theoretical-deductive thinking received in schools of higher learning dedicated to teaching Law.

The more the old model of practical training evolved in the direction of the academic model of teaching, the greater the chances of increasing and making more sophisticate the logical-formal qualities of modern law Schluchter, and ; Treiber, But extra-juridical factors also have a causal impact. At times decisive, such as on the relation between the formalism of modern law and urban middle classes, the bourgeoisie. Chasing, throughout the history of cultures, indicators of the expansion of rationality in the legal environment, Weber observes that "where this link [to powerful groups of individuals strongly interested in the rational character of law and procedure, as happened with the middle classes in Rome at the end of the Middle Ages and the modern era] was missing, the secularization of law and distinct differentiation of rigorous juridical-formal thought could not go further.

The intrinsic interests of the stratum of jurists and their intellectual habits are one thing, quite another the economic and organizational interests of the business classes and their way of life. Both constellations of interests and manners, when dealing with questioning factors that led to the increasing formal rationalization of modern law, came together, according to Weber, in order to drive the process in the same direction.

Which explains why, in the aforementioned passage, he attributes the fine-tuning of juridical-formal thought in modern western culture to the decisive influence of bourgeois strata. And, because increased formalization and objectivity of inter-individual relations are of interest to the bourgeoisie, Weber does not fail to take into consideration the influence of the urban middle class and its ethos on the secularization of a series of juridical norms that regulate and sanction contractual relations and that are valid for everyone.

Before drawing the commentary of this passage to a close, this quick observation must be made: here, as usual, Weber does not miss the opportunity to pay homage to a portion of truth that he finds in a Marxist analysis. When he finds it. Passage 7. They generalized from that very particular story to religion as a whole. And Europe is in many ways the most secular part of the globe.

First, Peter Berger and then Jose Casanova. So his career has spanned right from the s through to today, for much of that carrier, he went along with the European secularisation theorists. But his interpretation was different. But it becomes less plausible when you meet an Hindu and a Buddhist. That was his theory of why it declined in modern societies. He said :. The world today, with some exceptions, is as furiously religious as ever.

This means that a whole body of literature by historians and social scientists, loosely labeled secularisation theory, is essentially mistaken. In my early work, I contributed to this literature. I was in good company. Most sociologists of religion had similar views and we had good reasons for upholding them. Some of the writing we produced still stand up.

The idea is simple. Modernization necessarily leads to a decline of religion, both in society and in the minds of individuals. DR: Poland is a very good example. And where the Church is still seen as, perhaps, I think, cultural hegemony.

I think those statistics have a very interesting thing to say about secularization. LW: Yes, so the difficulty is to explain why the differential rates of secularization. That it depends what role religion has in a particular society and what relationship it has to reactionary and revolutionary political power.

So in a country like France, where all forces of liberalization and democracy who have opposed by the Catholic Church, you get a very very strong secularism. Because all progressive people want to overthrow this reactionary force. And he thinks he can do similar analyses across the world. So he rejected the general theory, an undifferentiated theory, long before anyone else.

And what role is religion playing in relations to those struggles. And my own little contribution to this story in relation to the UK would be that a really important part of why secularisation theory was so powerfully developed here in the post-war period, was because of the welfare state settlement.

The welfare state became a secular utopian kind of quasi-religious project. People really believed in the realization of a fairer and more just and equal society, symbolised by the National Health Service, which is a kind of sacred icon and the envy of the world. The doctor and the GP became like the parish priest, a trust-worthy father figure in the community. So you had a kind of secular faith. LW: In many ways, it was sacred. If you look at Harold Shipman, the murderer, the reason he killed so many people was that no one would believe that a doctor could behave like that, a bit like child abuse in churches.

So there was such an alternative secular faith, such hope for that model, that religion became less important. Actually the churches played a big role, they threw in a lot with the welfare state and tried to contribute to it. We found the right way to organise society. And as we lost a bit faith in that vision, people turned to religion again to find meaning and models of more just social order and so on. DR: So where does this allude to secularisation thesis?

Is it still relevant to the study of religion? We can see now that it belonged in a particular place and a particular time and it was ideological. It was a kind of faith in its own right, it supported a vision of Europe at the cutting edge of history of the secular Nation-State starting to take over a new role in society and so on.

It was bound up with those very particular conditions, and in those conditions, it made a lot of sense of what was happening. When I started studying religions, the secularisation thesis was still essential part of what you learned and, yet, once you look at it, it kind of dissolves away, there was nothing really ever there.

LW: And wrote passionately about it, because it stood for a certain vision of how society should be. It was always a bit more than that. Thank you very much, Professor. Version 1. The views expressed in podcasts, features and responses are the views of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Religious Studies Project or our sponsors.

The Secularisation Thesis. April 16, Listen Now. Linda Woodhead. David G. About this episode. We need your support! Related Resources. Catholicism, Francesca Cadeddu, shares some of her reflections on Roger Allen LaPorte, whose contested martyrdom by self-immolation is the topic of her present postdoctoral project. Millions of people, most of them civilians, were killed in the Vietnam War.

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April 18, While it is often argued that the secularization thesis only referred to macro-level secularization — the separation of religion from other societal spheres in the process of functional differentiation cf. Wilson — there is no way of denying that most specific secularization theories also refer to a loss of significance of religion on the individual level, explicitly or implicitly,.

The Secularisation Thesis [transcript]. DR: Were there any other interpretations of the secularisation thesis? DR: It was never really accepted?

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