Assess the Nature and Extent of Secularisation in Society Today

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Assess the nature and extent of secularisation in society today. (33 marks)

In today’s society there are sociological arguments that say society is becoming more and more secular. A secular society is where religious beliefs and values have lost influence and importance in society. Some seem to think that this has happened in Britain. There is much evidence for this for example statistics show that there has been a decline in the proportion of the population going to church. There has also been an increase in the average age of churchgoers, fewer church weddings and baptisms, a decline in the numbers holding traditional Christian beliefs and greater religious diversity. Wilson has argued that Western societies had been undergoing a long term process of secularisation. Sociologists put forward different explanations of these trends and have reached different conclusions.
A common theme that is put forward to explain the recent patterns that secularisation is taking place is modernisation. Weber comes up with the theory of rationalisation and the fact that rational ways of thinking and acting have come to replace religious ones. He argues that the protestant reformation started the process of rationalisation of life whereby rational scientific outlook found in modern society has undermined religious worldview. He says that this has contributed to the decrease in influence if religious beliefs in society today. He also argues that disenchantment of religion has taken place with the protestant reformation. This meant that events are no longer to be explained as the work of unpredictable supernatural beings, but as the predictable workings of natural forces. All that was needed to understand them was rationality. By using reason and science and, humans could discover the laws of nature, understand and predict how the world works and control it through technology.…...

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