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The Post-Secular in QuestionReligion in Contemporary Society$
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Philip Gorski, David Kyuman Kim, John Torpey, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814738726

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814738726.001.0001

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Religion and Secularization in the United States and Western Europe

Religion and Secularization in the United States and Western Europe

(p.279) Chapter Eleven Religion and Secularization in the United States and Western Europe
The Post-Secular in Question

John Torpey

NYU Press

This chapter explores the theory of secularization as an account of religion's place in Western Europe and the United States. It first considers what social scientists mean when they use the term “religion” in the first place before discussing why much of Europe has turned out differently from other places with respect to its religiosity—or, more directly, its secularity. It then examines the meaning of the concept of secularization and why secularization occurs, and whether it has actually taken place in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. In particular, it looks at two paradigms that have been proposed to characterize tendencies toward secularization in Europe: “believing without belonging” and “belonging without believing.” The chapter concludes by analyzing the perception that Americans are more religious than their counterparts in Western Europe.

Keywords:   secularization, religion, Western Europe, United States, religiosity, secularity, believing, belonging

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