Civil Society and Religion: Retrospective Reflections on Catholicism and Prospective Reflections on Islam

Author: José Casanova

December 1, 2001

Looking back over the "third wave" of democratization -- Southern Europe to South America to Eastern Europe to East Asia to South Africa -- it appears that (per Huntington, Casanova, and others) the "third wave" was primarily a Catholic wave. Since the democratizations of the 1970s, however, it has been argued that democracy may have reached its civilizational apex: facing an intrinsically anti-democratic Islam, the tide can go no higher. This position, staked out most famously by Samuel Huntington, is the subject of the second half of Casanova's article, in which he reflects on Catholicism -- not always thought to be amenable to democracy -- as a beginning point to predict the future feasibility of Islamic democracy. This article was published in volume 68 of Social Research (Winter 2001).

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