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010028 UE Key Readings in Secularization Theory (2017S)

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 1 - Katholische Theologie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 07.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 14.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 21.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 28.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 04.04. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 25.04. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 02.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 09.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 16.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 23.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 30.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 13.06. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 20.06. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Tuesday 27.06. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum 2 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course introduces students to secularization theory. Narratives of secularization, i.e. of a decline of religion in modernity, play a central role in the self-understanding of the West (cf. Taylor 2007) and therefore unsurprisingly also in the academic study of religion. The focus of the course is specifically on social scientific theorization, where secularization is defined as "the process, whereby religious thinking, practice and institutions lose social significance" (Wilson 1966, xiv; cf. Bruce 2011, 2). Theorists of secularization are mostly concerned with describing and explaining changes in the West, primarily in Europe and North America, but students interested in other areas are encouraged to attend. Through presentations and in-depth discussions of the relevant literature, students will become familiar with a) the historical development of sociological theories of secularization, b) their explanations of secularization and c) critical perspectives on such theories within and beyond the study of religions. As a result, students will also gain a a valuable perspective on contemporary debates about the place of religion in modern societies; not least discussions about the "return of religion", "desecularization" or "post-secular society", which can only be understood against the background of secularization.

Assessment and permitted materials

The mode of assessment is listed in the section below. The language of instruction and discussion is English. Students are expected to engage in class discussion.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The course assessment comprises three items: class participation (20%) a short presentation of a text in class (30 %) and a a final essay (50 %).

Examination topics

Reading list

Reading List
Berger, Peter. 1967. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York: Doubleday.

1999. The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview. Berger Peter (ed.), The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, 1-18. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing co. and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Wahington DC.

Bruce, Steve. 2002. God is Dead: Secularization in the West. (Religion in the modern world) Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

2011. Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Casanova, José. 1994. Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Chaves, Mark. 1994. Secularization as Declining Religious Authority. Social Forces. 72 (3). 749-775.

Inglehart, Ronald & Pippa Norris. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin, David. 1978. A General Theory of Secularization. Oxford: Blackwell.

2005. On Secularization: Towards a Revised General Theory. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Shiner Larry. 1967. The Concept of Secularization in Empirical Research. Journal for the scientific study of religion. 6 (2). 207-220.

Smith, Christian. 2003. Introduction. Rethinking the Secularization of American Public Life. Christian Smith (ed.), The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life, 1-97. University of California Press.

Stark, Rodney. 2000. Secularization, R.I.P. William H. Swatos JR. & Daniel V.A. Olson (ed.), The Secularization Debate, 41-67. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Tschannen, Olivier. 1991. The Secularization Paradigm: A Systematization. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 30 (4). 395-415.

Weber, Max. 1919. Wissenschaft als Beruf. (Geistige Arbeit als Beruf. Vorträge vor dem Freistudentischen Bund. 1.) München und Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.

2010. Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus, Vollständige Ausgabe. Herausgegeben und eingeleitet von Dirk Kaesler, 3. durchgeseh. Aufl. München: C.H. Beck.

Wilson, Bryan R. 1966. Religion in Secular Society. London: Penguin.

1982. Religion in sociological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The recommended readings will be made available to students.

Association in the course directory

066 800 M8

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:26