Is Secularization Global?

January 1, 2013

In “Is Secularization Global?” José Casanova argues that there are three distinct types of secularization. Secularization I refers to the global phenomenon of the institutionalization of modern secular spheres of science and technology, administrative citizen states, and market economics which function autonomously from religious norms and institutions. Secularization II refers to the decline of religious beliefs and practices, which is common in Western European societies but not a global phenomenon. Secularization III refers to the privatization of religion, often understood as both a modern trend and a normative precondition for modern liberal democratic politics. Using a comparative approach, Casanova concludes that various pairs of world regions—Western Europe and the United States, Quebec and Brazil, China and India—each have diverging religious and secular trends. In addition, two dynamics—that of secularization and that of religious pluralism—present significantly different challenges for the Catholic mission worldwide. The chapter was published as part of Opening New Spaces: Worldwide Mission and Secularization (2013, in German, co-edited by Gregor Bub and Markus Luber).

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