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By Ira Katznelson, Gareth Stedman Jones

The speculation of secularisation grew to become a nearly unchallenged fact of twentieth-century social technology. First sketched out through Enlightenment philosophers, then reworked into an irreversible worldwide method via nineteenth-century thinkers, the speculation was once given substance through the precipitate drop in non secular perform throughout Western Europe within the Sixties. even if, the re-emergence of acute conflicts on the interface among faith and politics has confounded such assumptions. it truly is transparent that those rules needs to be rethought. but, as this exclusive, overseas crew of students demonstrate, now not every little thing inside the concept of secularisation was once fake. Analyses of advancements for the reason that 1500 display a large spectrum of historic strategies: partial secularisation in a few spheres has been followed via sacralisation in others. applying new techniques derived from heritage, philosophy, politics and anthropology, the essays amassed in faith and the Political mind's eye supply new methods of considering the urgency of spiritual concerns within the modern global.

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11 While Calvin recognised a separation of secular and religious authority, he simultaneously, in principle, subordinated the secular to the religious realm. An alternative ideational defence of secular rule reflective of political change emerged most starkly and powerfully in Hobbes’s work in the mid 1600s. The gradual, stop–start process of political secularisation unfolded through relocating normative power to a basis other than religion. Where was that to come from? The capacity of the state to move into an alternative role pre-existed in the elaborate legal tradition of the West.

Sociology of Religion 60/3 (1999), 249–73 (quote on 251–2). 5 Wilson asserts the need to study denominationalism and sectarianism as ‘responses’ to secularisation, when in fact these should be viewed as ‘causes’ of secularisation before emerging as subsequent developments. The failure to consider the political dimension of the causes, consequences and essential nature of the transformation has left this literature fairly unhelpful in making sense of its origins and of religion’s resurgence today.

Even in the classic case of realpolitik, Machiavelli’s drive for Italian unity underlay his appeal to force and violence. But as I discuss in the section on national identity, an exclusive focus on nationalism will not produce political experience and habits among a people conducive to secularisation. Secularisation 33 In another type of case – Germany – the initial political–religious settlement of the Peace of Augsburg (1555) did not generate a process of political secularisation and ruler legitimation, because each prince continued to maintain a monopoly on his subjects’ religious beliefs within his territory.

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