What Is Meant by “Secularisation” by Jose Casanova
What is meant by „secularization“ by Jose Casanova in his book “Public religions in the Modern World”? In his book “Public religion in the Modern World”, Jose Casanova tests the theory of secularization and analyses and explains how religion became public again. In his opinion the role of religion started to shift dominantly into the “public sphere”(p3) again in the 1980s. He gives four arguments to support his assumption that are four developments that preceded to a reassessment of religion’s role in the modern world.
The first development was the Islamic revolution in Iran, the second the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the third was the role of Catholicism in Latin America especially in Sandinista and the fourth development is illustrated by the public reemergence of Protestant fundamentalism in the United States of America. Casanova points out that in the 1980s religions were struggling in wars in the Middle East and religious activists became highly engaged in struggles for justice and democracy liberation.
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However, it is not the discovery of the emergence of new religious movements in the 1980s that he exposes but the revitalization and the assumption of public roles by religious traditions. Theories of secularization and cyclical theories of religion assumed that these two developments were becoming steadily irrelevant and marginal in the modern world. It is too broad of a topic to go deeply into Casanova’s argumentation and to examine his four case studies.
What will be pointed out in this paper is his comprehension of secularization. The structure will be as followed: I will introduce my paper with Jose Casanova’s view on the thesis on secularization by taking over his structure that is dividing the thesis in one thesis with two sub theses. Afterwards, I will give my own critics on his view and will end this paper with a conclusion. Secularization by Jose Casanova Casanova starts his first chapter with the question “Who still believes in the myth of secularization? The question can be interpreted as the origin of his work concerning the examination of “secularization” as he answers it in the negative and gives detailed and empirical explanatory for his view. Before Casanova goes into the theory of secularization, he starts with a distinction between the concept and the theory of secularization. He associates the concept of secularization to the historical process in medieval Christendom where its social reality was categorized into two “worlds” that is “the religious” and “the secular” world.
Even the realm was dualistically structured thus the dualism was institutionalized throughout society. The consequence was that much tension and open conflict existed between the church who claimed to obtain ultimate supremacy and the kings who believed to embody sacred sovereignty by divine right. He contributes that when being proper three worlds existed during the medieval time. There was this world which was divided into “the secular world” and “the religious world” and there was “the other” world which represented God. Within this dualism the church was the mediator because it belonged to both worlds.
Casanova highlights that only the acceptance of the claim of the superiority of the religious realm over the secular realm, made it possible to structure reality along the church’s likings. Thus the concept of secularization refers to the actual historical process whereby this dualist system within “this world” breaks down and only the secular one remains. From there on the all-encompassing reality illustrated the secular sphere, to which the religious sphere had to adapt. At this point, Casanova intervenes and assesses the analytical task of the theory of secularization.
For him, it is to find out which new role religion gets in the new system of classification and differentiation that comes across within this one secular world. He sees a lack in researches about the individual’s lives, their religious beliefs, practices and experiences within the new secular sphere and claims to rethink and reformulate the theory of secularization which states that its process is the progressive decline of religious beliefs and practices in the modern world. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Casanova 1994: 11. [ 2 ]. Casanova, 13. [ 3 ]. Casanova, 14. [ 4 ]. Casanova 15. [ 5 ]. Casanova 15.