Beyond European and American Exceptionalisms: Towards a Global Perspective

Author: José Casanova

November 24, 2003

The secularization debate has reached an "impasse" in both Europe and America. European theorists have come up with an "orthodox" model of secularization that fits developments in the EU and American theorists have put forth an "American paradigm" that works for the US, but neither seem able to account for developments across the Atlantic. The Europeans, for their part, have come up with an explanation for normative secularization, but cannot fit the persistent religious vibrancy of the equally-modernized US into their theory; the "religious market" describes the American situation well but does not map onto developments in Europe. In this book chapter Casanova proposes a clarification of both arguments and the need for further nuance in the terms used by each, but he concludes that the most important way past the impasse is in fact to go over it by bringing a better-informed historical and global perspective to the debate. This book chapter was published in Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures (2003, eds. Grace Davie, Paul Heelas, and Linda Woodhead).

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