Sample Essay on Secularization


The theory of secularization alludes to certain social phenomena whereby the significance, observance as well as authority of religion are deteriorating in the society. The traditional sociologists, for instance Auguste Comte, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, perceived that in the start of an industrial society, religion would gradually lose its significance as well as ultimately stop being imperative. The concept of secularization has considerably changed in current times. This paper looks at how Karl Dobbelaere changed the concept of secularization, as well as provides a clear look at the clarification of religion by Durkheim and Marx Weber.

Karl Dobbelaere interprets secularization as a procedure of differentiation described by the surging impartiality of institutional spheres that include science, education and politics; and each is mounting its own foundation in so doing leading to the elimination of the chief principal claim of religion (Halikiopoulou 26). Karl utilized the theory of demand and supply to aid grow three dimensions of secularization. These scopes include institutional differentiation (laicization), religious involvement as well as religious change. The procedure of institutional differentiation (laicization) focuses on the manner that the institutions are undertaking specialized roles in the community, as well as how they are structurally diverse from each other. He contends that religion has turned into a self-governing institute in line with other institutions, as a result losing its primary title.

Religious engagement alludes to the level to which individuals take part in church practices, while religious change concentrates on facets of religious groups that incorporate beliefs, rituals, and morals as well as studies the drop and the growth of religious communities. Dobbelaere tries to gauge secularization by utilizing signs to assess the religious dynamics of diverse societies. He engages quantitative ways to gauge secularization by ascertaining the dropping number of people taking part in religious services. In the aspect of religious engagement, individuals are secularized the moment their participation in religious services drops. In this instance, religious standards as well as beliefs are utilized as signs of secularization. This can be weighed via determining the church attendance, as well as the population joining priesthood. The drop in the number of individuals entering or attending religious companies, and those entering priesthood is a sign that the society is making a step towards secularization.

Nevertheless, care ought to be put into consideration when utilizing this method as not being able to attend church services does not essentially infer the scrapping of conservative religious values. The number of individuals taking part in religious services or joining priesthood may change because of historical or doctrinal motives. When mass attendance is essential in Catholicism, it is of less importance in orthodox as well as Protestantism Christianity. People may as well have diverse inspiration for taking part in religious services or entering the priesthood. The sign of secularization in institutional diversity focuses at the dropping function as well as importance of religious companies in the running and planning of social as well as political systems.



Constitutional separation of the church from the state and other social institutes is a great example. The persistent separation of the church from the state functions as well as other social institutions is a sign of secularization. The gauge of religious amendment, the breaking of conventional religious companies into a number of churches, sects and denominations with lesser members is a sign of the persistent diffusion of religion in the society. The escalating diffusion lessens the control of religious corporations over the people. This flow will make religious institutions run in the society, therefore leading into an absolute secular society. These three dimensions can be utilized as a method for equating as well as conflicting the religious dynamics of diverse societies.

Durkheim described religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart for forbidden belief and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them” (as cited in Breaux para 1). The forte of this description is that it demonstrates the operation of religion, and its impact on social life. The description demonstrates that religion inspires moral sensibility into people, thus creating the foundation of a united moral community.

The flaw of his description is that it fails to focus on the faith in supernatural as being an element of religion, however highlights on sacred things. His description fails to incorporate ethical communities that trust in the supernatural, such as belief in God, as being religious. Durkheim utilizes the theory of collective effervescence to demonstrate that religious ideas are stimulated by shared life. Aside from growing religious views, mutual life as well strengthens and revitalizes it. It broadens religious experiences that frequently drop when people go separate ways. As a result, religious life is maintained via collective life. Durkheim perceives religion as coming from totemism, a practice whereby a community classifies itself with objectives from the natural world. When societies devote, worship or keep aside totems as sacred things, they are really worshipping the visual representation of their shared presence. Those exercises that come from this symbolic representation are ultimately recognized as a religion.

Karl Marx observed religion as a social tranquilizer as well as a representative of social authority. He perceived religion as a tool that offers the deprived or working class individuals in the society a progressive relief for their pain wreaked by capitalism whereby a small number of people control the means of production. Religion lessens battle between classes in community as it guarantees the troubled a better life if they agree to their present miseries. The strongest validate their position via religion by arguing that it is not only natural, but also God-given and ought not to be probed.

Max Weber perceives religion as a self-governing variable in life, as well as a source of social alteration. He contends that a person’s religion background impacts his or her feat in life. Weber highlights that Protestantism was linked with business triumph. In contrast to Marx, Weber perceives religion as being the drive for capitalism. Since majority of religions fail to allow people to utilize their wealth on wasteful living, they think through reinvestment of their wealth to be most sensible thing to undertake. This buildup of capital over time blended with lesser use eventually leads to sustained economic development and rise of modern capitalism. Weber fails to overlook the fact that religion can be embraced to allow social disparity.

It is apparent that societies are experiencing the procedure of secularization. This procedure can be assessed well utilizing three dimension of secularization by Karl Dobbelaere. Religion is as well fathomed via collective life, and has a considerable impact on social life. Whereas Marx perceives religion as a way of social control emerging from capitalism. Weber contends that religion is responsible for modern capitalism as it spurred reinvestment of wealth by banning its followers from taking part in extravagant use of their wealth.

Works cited

Breaux, Jarred. “Durkheim’s Definition of Religion, Sacred, and Rituals.” Spiritual Living 360, 11 Apr. 2008. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.

Halikiopoulou, Daphne. Patterns of Secularization: Church, State and Nation in Greece and the Republic of Ireland. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2011. Print.