The conference: "Old religion and new spirituality: continuity and changes in the background of secularization"
Secularization theory and individualization thesis: Theoretically and empirically reconsidered
In the social sciences a new discourse on religion in modern societies has established itself. It is no longer the master narrative that religion is waning in significance that dominates the perspectives in the social sciences. The new key words are ‘Return of the gods' (Friedrich Wilhelm Graf), ‘Re-enchantment of the world' (Ulrich Beck), Desecularization (Peter L. Berger) - or individualization of religion (Thomas Luckmann, Hubert Knoblauch, Grace Davie). Since criticizing the secularization theory often has a great deal to do with scaremongering, what is required firstly is as precise a reconstruction as possible of what secularization theory and individualization thesis are actually saying. The talk in its first part provides a reconstruction of the propositional content of secularization and individualization theory and deals with the various meanings and criticisms of these concepts. The second part focuses on the social and historical developments of religion in selected European countries. By looking at the changes in religious belongings, attitudes and practices in the last decades it tries to find out which empirical data speak in favour of the secularization theory and which ones in favour of the individualization thesis.