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Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics) 2nd Edition

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1107648371
ISBN-10: 1107648378
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This second edition is an outstanding contribution to the new thought among social scientists about the process of secularization... Norris and Inglehart present convincing arguments soundly anchored in extensive systematic research from around the globe...[They] provide a brilliant, well-written, and thoroughly convincing second edition of what will surely become a classic in the field. This is an indispensable work for any college-level class concerned with the role of religion in the contemporary world. Summing Up: Essential." -J.J. Preston, Sonoma State University, CHOICE Magazine

Book Description

Nineteenth-century thinkers predicted that religion would gradually fade in importance with the emergence of industrial society, and the belief that religion was dying became the conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century. Today, religion has not disappeared and is unlikely to do so, but the concept of secularization captures an important part of what is going on. In this context, this book develops a theory of secularization and existential security. This second edition confirms that the publics of advanced industrial societies have been moving toward more secular orientations during the past fifty years, but also that the world as a whole now has more people with traditional religious views than ever before.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics
  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (October 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107648378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107648371
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christian Smith on June 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book presents a significant re-statement of secularization theory, framing religion as declining with the advance of "existential security" through modernization and human development. Along the way, the argument interestingly contradicts with strong empirical findings Stark and Finke's "religious economies theory," in a way that will demand a response from them. The book's strengths (and perhaps weakness, in some ways) are its cross-national perspective and survey data, which are all too rare in sociology of religion (although some are skeptical of the reliablity of the World Values Survey) and its attempt to seriously empirically test hypotheses deduced from significant theories. This is an important book in many ways, but note that is also compromised by a number of apparent flaws: 1. It uses mostly cross-sectional data to make claims about historical changes. 2. It perhaps wrongly assumes cohort rather than age effects in its generational analyses. 3. It does not actually even directly measure its key variable of existential security, but relies instead on indirect measures and inferences. 4. It does not well develop theoretically the social psychological and cognitive mechanisms that would lead increased existential security to secularize, leaving the reader to imagine the connections that would make that happen. 5. The major types of societies analyzed are also strongly correlated with different kinds of religions (post-industrial are heavily Protestant, agrarian heavily non-Christian), which the analysis does not always control for well. 6. It focuses on the "mass publics" of various nations, relying on calculated national means, with little attention to potentially important diversity and complexity within cases that matter for the overall argument. 7.Read more ›
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By N. Creel on February 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is possibly the best religion and comparative politics book out there. It ties into Inglehart's "Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy" book very well. Read both back to back if you can. (Read this second if you do)
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Format: Paperback
The single strongest argument to be found in this book -- shown through extensive data anayis, rich evidence, and clear thinking -- is that societies where people have enough to eat, housing, healthcare, good education, and jobs are societies marked by LOW religiosity: few go to church and few believe in God or that the Bible is divine. Conversely, societies whyere life is precarious, marked by poverty, corruption, sickness, low education and unemployment, are societies marked by high degrees of religiosity. Makes perfect sense. And this book spells it all out, with lots of reliable data.

The funny things as that all the social scientists of Europe from the 1800s who predicted the detah of religion WERE RIGHT -- for their own societies. Their predictions obviously didn't hold for the rest of the world, but heck, no prediction is perfect. Religion in most of Europe is dying -- as was predicted. See the work of Steve Bruce for even more solid contemporary evidence. or Grace Davie.

Greeley, Stark, and Finke are simply wrong. This book proves much of their theories wrong. Shame on Greeley for calling secularization theory "dogma" without data. Shame on Stark for mocking sound sociological evidence.

Rife with clear data and clear theoretical articulation, this is a solid look at religion the world over. Religious faith is indeed flourishing throughout much of the world, but that is only because poverty is also flourishing throughout much of the world. And why is religion so strong in the US? Hm...let;'s see...could it maybe be that we have the highest percentage of people below poverty of any advanced industrial democracy, and we have the greatest gap between rich and poor, and no national health coverage? Well heck, at least Bush is big on prayer....
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