- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (September 21, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0754660117
- ISBN-13: 978-0754660118
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #817,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Religious America, Secular Europe?: A Theme and Variations 1st Edition
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'If you have heard Texans talking about Europe, especially France, or some Germans talking about the USA, especially its religion, you know there is a very big problem: this important book explains why.'
David Martin, London School of Economics, UK
'Once a global outlook makes evident that the secularization of Europe is rather exceptional, the old theory that explained the secularity of Europe in terms of its modernity is no longer plausible. This book turns the tables on the European theory of American exceptionalism. It is not the vibrant religiosity of America that is exceptional and requires an explanation, but rather the radical secularity of European societies. Why do Europeans believe that to be modern requires to be secular, leaving their old religion behind? The distinct voices of three prominent sociologists add up to a new interpretation of the complex European religious/secular puzzle.' <>br> Jose Casanova, Georgetown University, USA
'... it is refreshing to find such a cogent book that lucidly debunks so many of the cherished arguments of secularisation theory. The hypothesis that Europe is normal and secular because of modernity and the Enlightenment is no longer plausible - because the vibrancy of religiosity in America (and other developed and developing nations) suggests that it is Europe's secularity that is specious, and requires an explanation... a rich and thought-provoking account of why two continents, an ocean apart, have produced such markedly different kinds of religiosity in contemporary society.'
'This book is small but dense. Its arguments are well constructed and avoid leaping to simple conclusions about very complex matters... Recommended.'
'The authors of this volume interact with a wide variety of studies and works on the subject of (post-)secularization, making it an excellent introduction to the field. The reader will find plentiful statistics, anecdotes and theories which challenge assumptions most of us share owing to the former dominance of secularization theory, even in popular thought. The book does not offer a grand explanation or a comprehensive counter-theory; it goes much further in raising multiple questions than leaving the reader assured of answers. The reader will almost certainly be stimulated to think and read further on the role of religion in contemporary societies.'
'... [this book] is clearly written (a joy to read), it is clearly argued on a core topic of contemporary concern (even if the secularization debate is technically over, generations of students will have to study it), and it is clearly important not just as part of contemporary religious life but also at the practical level, i.e. for ministers and church leaders. Such clarity should not be confined to an academic group. This is potentially a text book on religion for student theologians and pastors. I very warmly commend it as such... This is a powerful book that offers an attempt to provide an alternative to secularism. It indicates, too, that western societies, and even more alliances, will have to take religion into account in their planning and strategic thinking. I think it also implies, though it does not say so directly, that the churches will find themselves side-lined unless they can find a theory and theology of religion that will account for the vast movements of world religions and for their impact on the beliefs of individuals.' --Wesley Carr, Ecclesiology
'... this is a very dense, rich book, which engages a wide range of empirical materials, issues and theoretical models. The collaboration of leading scholars from across the Atlantic has contributed to producing a productive and complex account. The comparative agenda turns out to be fruitful and fills an important lacuna in the sociological literature on religion in multiple modernities.' --Religion
'What makes [this book] most useful to experts and students alike is the careful approach to explaining complex social and political phenomena: if we want to render processes of secularization intelligible, we need to take into account a number of intersecting material and immaterial dimensions… a good read for anybody specifically interested in a more mainstream narrative grounded in the sociology of religion.'
Religion and Society - Advances in Research
'This is a valuable book… It helps to see how the process of the debate takes place, how historical developments left institutional, intellectual, social, and political sediments that frame the position of (public and private) religion in a society.'
Church History and Religious Culture
'… will be useful for university undergraduates or other newcomers to the sociological study of religion, and it will offer such readers a solid grounding in the pertinent issues along with an impressive range of secondary references from the field. The authors also present several intriguing social observations…'
Political Studies Review
'Berger brings to the book an outstanding understanding of contemporary religion in the USA as well as involvement in debates about the sociology of religion over many years, while Davie is an expert in the European scene. Fokas has an understanding of the Orthodox tradition in Europe and so together, the three can speak with considerable authority and insight. In addition to this, the volume makes use of empirical data drawn from a range of disciplines, emphasising yet again that religion cannot be studied as an isolated topic: the dynamic interaction of different histories, religious identities, and social and political trends produces the complexities with which politicians and citizens alike contend.'
'… the description and discussion of the religious differences between the United States and Europe, is interesting and gives much food for thought.'
Journal of Religion in Europe
'The work makes a worthy contribution to the body of knowledge on the topic. The authors succeed to convince the reader of their claims regarding secularism and religion. The intended audience of the book is Americans and Europeans. The writing style is characterised by coherence, clarity, originality and conciseness. The book challenged my previous ideas on religious America and secular Europe and made me abandon some assumptions, whilst reinforcing others.' --Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
About the Author
Peter Berger is known all over the world for his work in sociology, including the sociology of religion. he has taught at the New School for Social Research, at Rutgers University, and at Boston College. He has written numerous books on sociological theory, the sociology of religion, and Third World development, which have been translated into dozens of foreign languages. Among his more recent books are Questions of Faith: a Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity (2004); The Desecularization of the World : Resurgent Religion and World Politics (1999); Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of Human Experience (1997); Modernity, Pluralism and the Crisis of Meaning (with Thomas Luckmann, 1995); The Capitalist Revolution: Fifty Propositions About Prosperity, Equality and Liberty (1988); and The War Over the Family: Capturing the Middle Ground (with Brigitte Berger, 1983). In 1992, Professor Berger was awarded the Mannes Sperber Prize, presented by the Austrian government for significant contributions to culture. Since 1985, Professor Berger has been Director of the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs in Boston. The institute is a research center committed to systematic study of relationships between economic development and sociocultural change in different parts of the world. Grace Davie is widely known in the sociology of Religion in Britain, Europe and the United States. Currently she holds a personal chair in the Sociology of Religion at the University of Exeter where she also directs the Centre for European Studies. In 2003 she was President of the American Association for the Sociology of Religion. She is the current (2002-06) President of the RC 22 (Sociology of Religion) of the International Sociological Association. Recent publications include Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures (co-edited with Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead) (2003); Europe: the Exceptional Case. Parameters of Faith in the Modern World (2002); Religion in Modern Europe: a Memory Mutates (2000); Modern France: Society in Transition (co-edited with Malcolm Cook) (1999); Identités religieuses en Europe (co-edited with Grace Davie) (1996); Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without Belonging (1994) (translated into French). In 2000-01 she held the Kerstin-Hesselgren Professorship in the University of Uppsala. Effie Fokas gained her Ph D from the London School of Economics in 2004 for a thesis entitled 'The role of religion in national-EU relations: the cases of Greece and Turkey'. Since then she has been working as a research assistant at the University of Exeter with responsibility for the Greek case study in the Welfare and Religion in European Perspective project. She is an associate of ELIAMEP (the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy) in Athens, directing its project on 'Christian-Muslim relations in 21st Century Europe' and co-editing (with Aziz al-Azmeh) Islam in Europe: Diversity, Identity and Influence (CUP forthcoming). Other publications include 'Greece: Religion, nation and European identity', in ed. Haldun Gulalp Citizenship and Ethnic Conflict: Challenging the Nation-State (2005) and 'Turkey, Islam and the European Union', in eds. Nergis Canefe and Mehmet Ugur Turkey and European Integration: Accession Prospects and Issues (2004).
Top customer reviews
The book seeks to answer to question, "Why is America so religious and Europe so secular?" After an introductory chapter, the second chapter touches on the question in a general way by discussing what is different and what is similar. Then chapters three to six deal with the causes for the differences. They are: 1) different histories, 2) different intellectual approaches; 3) what is called "institutional carriers" namely church-state, judicial and educational carriers and their influence; and 4) differences in religion and class.
The final chapter entitled "So What? Policy Implications" moves the analysis of the difference into the arena of practicality.
This book has made a profound difference in my thinking about the differences between the US and Europe in the domain of religion and has both answered some of my questions and at the same time has given me more to think through. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.