Religion Renewal and Choice

Lucy Rutherford
Mind Map by Lucy Rutherford, updated more than 1 year ago
Lucy Rutherford
Created by Lucy Rutherford over 6 years ago
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mindmap summary of topic 4

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Religion Renewal and Choice
  1. Existential Security Theory
    1. Norris and Englehart - reject religious market theory as it only applies to America. Failing to explain variations in different societies they argue that differences in religiosity are because of differences in the feeling that survival is secure enough that it can be taken for granted.
      1. Religion meets this need for security. so in societies where people feel secure we would expect low demand for religion. In poor societies - high religious participation they have high levels of insecurity becuase of famine, disease and disasters so they turn to religion for answers. In rich societies - low levels of religious participation as a high standard of living means where is less risk and a greater sense of security
        1. Believe the demand for religion is not constant as Stark and Bainbridge suggest but fluctuates within and between societies. Demand is greatest in low income groups and societies because they are less secure. Explains why 3rd world countries remain religious while 1st world countries have become more secular
          1. Note that global population growth undermines the trend towards secularisation, as the growth rate is slowest in 1st world countries but highest in 3rd world countries with a faster growth rate making the majority of world more religious
            1. Europe VS America
              1. equal and secure in the world a developed welfare state which reduces poverty
                1. unequal between the rich and poor with an individualistic "dog eat dog" attitude creating high levels of insecurity and religious participation
              2. Gill and Lundegaarde - found that a more a country spends on welfare provisions the lower the levels of religious participation. As religion used to provide these services now the state does society has become more secular. Religion will not disappear completely as state welfare may solve the security crisis but does not answer the ultimate questions about life.
                1. Criticism of Stark and Bainbridge is the case Uruguay which has lots of religious diversity but low levels of religious participation. A free market therefore doesnt stimulate participation because Uruguay has generous welfare provisions which supports existential security theory.
                2. Evaluation - (Vasquez) ignores the positives reasons of why people maybe religious. Only use quantitative data about income levels they don't examine peoples own definitions of how insecure they feel. To be improved and existential security theory accepted we must use qualitative data
                3. Religious Market Theory
                  1. Stark and Bainbridge - critical of secularisation theory as they believe it to be ethnocentiric (too Westernised) Only focuses on the decline of religion in Europe disregarding its vitality in America and elsewhere. Secularisation theory therefore paints a distorted view of the world there was never a "golden age" of religion in the past in the same way we cannot predict religions end when everyone will be atheist.
                    1. Offer religious market theory based on two assumptions. 1) people are naturally religious as religion meets human needs, overall demand religion is high but the particular types may vary. 2) In human nature to seek rewards and avoid costs people weigh up decisions based on this calculation.
                      1. Religion is attractive as it provides us with compensators, these are explanations when questions need to be answered. If real rewards are unobtainable or scare religion compensates by offering supernatural rewards.
                      2. Unlike secularisation theory and just the decline of religion Stark and Bainbridge offer a historical cycle of religious decline, revival and renewal. E.G established Churches decline leaving a gap for Sects and Cults to attract new followers. Secularisation theory is too one sided by ignoring the growth of new religions.
                        1. Use the analogy of Churches as companies to explain how they operate and sell their "goods." Competition between religions doesn't undermine beliefs but leads to improvements in the quality of religions "goods" on offer. Churches must make their "products" more attractive if they are to succeed in gaining and maintaining regular "customers." The Churches which don't meet their members needs decline.
                          1. Demand for religion increases when there are different sorts to choose from. However if there is a religious monopoly there is religious decline as the Church has no incentive to provide people with what they desire.
                            1. America - religious participation is high because of the healthy religious market that exists. A variety of denominations to choose from because of the weak link between state and church, so religions can grow and decline according to consumer demand.
                              1. Europe - dominated by an official state church there has always been a religious monopoly E.G Church of England. Competition has not been able to flourish so the lack of choice has lead to a decline in beliefs
                                1. To conclude they see supply as the main factor for influcening levels of religious participation rather than demand as secularisation theory suggest. Participation increase when an ample supply of religious groups is avaliable but declines if choice is restricted. Simialrly this decline is not a universal trend but confined to certain types of society.
                                2. Criticisms
                                  1. Bruce - statistics show that diversity has been accompanied by religious decline in both Europe and America. He rejects this diversity/compeition view. Argues Stark and Bainbridge mis represent secularisation theory.
                                    1. Norris and Englehart - countries that do offer religious pluralism still have low levels of participation.
                                      1. Beckford - religious market theory assumes people are naturally religious failing to explain why people stop believing or make poor choices, it is therefore unsociological.
                                    2. Postmodernity and Religion
                                      1. Reject secularisation theory as religion is not declining but changing. This is because of the shift from modern to late modern or for some postmodern society. These increases in consumerism and individualism have caused this shift and a change in religious participation
                                        1. Lyon - The growth of consumerism, increased importance of the media and consumerism has given way to a variety of new religious forms
                                          1. Globalisation which is the increased interconnectedness of societies has changed the very nature of religion. Lead to the relocation of religion as religious ideas cross national boundaries. The media saturates people with images from around the world which promotes previously isolated religions.
                                            1. Religion is therefore "disembedded" as ideas are lifted out of local contexts and transferred to a different time and place. E.G the Harvest Day Crusade was held in Disneyland not at Church. The boundaries between different area of social life have become blurred in postmodern society.
                                              1. Religion is also "de-institutionalised" the signs and images which represent it have become detached, free floating in cyber space as a cultural resource which people can adapt for their own purposes.
                                            2. Religious Consumerism - we construct our identities through what we consume.
                                              1. Just like Hervieu-Leger's notion of spiritual shopping we can choose the religious beliefs we suit our needs. Pic n Mix different elements from the religious market place creating an individualised religion. This relocation of religion to the sphere of consumption has meant people may cease to belong to one organisation but they have not abandoned their beliefs entirely. Instead make conscious choices about their beliefs acting as "religious consumers"
                                                1. Nancy Amerman - American Christian Fundamentalists showed that many family's use a number of Churches without giving strong loyalty to a single one. This therefore shows how people decide which elements to take from different religions, in order to construct their identity. One family used the bereavement counselling of a Baptist Church but attended the Sunday service at a Methodist Church.
                                                  1. Bellah - Sheilaism demonstrates the idea of individualised religion. Everyone has their own individual interpretations, holding religious beliefs without ever practicing them in public. Sheila an interviewed nurse described it as " my own little voice carrying you a long way." Supports religion changing rather than declining as people create their own belief systems in order to nurture their own spiritual development
                                                2. Re-enchantment of the world - there has been a growth of unconventional beliefs, practices and spiritually. So although traditional religion maybe declining rapidly in Europe the growing vitality (NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS) of non-traditional religions in the West and elsewhere supports Postmodernism and the idea that religion is changing.
                                                  1. Criticisms
                                                    1. Unlikely that religious media such as Televangelism attracts new converts instead it confirms peoples existing beliefs
                                                      1. Buce - The consumerist religion put forward by Lyon is weak as it has little effect on the lives of its followers. Therefore evidence in support of secularisation theory not for the continuing vitality of religion
                                                  2. Davie - Believing without Belonging
                                                    1. Religion has become privatised in which people still hold religious beliefs but don't attend Church to express them. A matter of choice to go rather than obligation too. Created a trend of "vicarious religion" where a small number of professional clergy represent a large number of people. This group of believers still turn to express their faith for rites of passage like weddings and funerals it may therefore be that people become part of a religious organisation in times of need
                                                      1. Supported by Bibby's survey of Canadian, only 25% attended church regularly but 80% still identified positively with religious traditions
                                                      2. Secularisation theory assumes that modernisation affects all aspects of society in an identical way. Davie argues there are actually multiple modernities as church attendance remains high in America but low in Britain. This shows that modernity doesn't always result in the decline of religion with science being its replacement both belief systems can continue to co exist.
                                                        1. Criticisms
                                                          1. Voas and Crockett- decline in both Church attendance AND belief in God.
                                                            1. Bruce - people are not willing toinvest time in going to church then they are not going to invest "effort" in their beliefs. If the strength of their beliefs diminish then their desire to belong also declines and they break way from any religious involvement
                                                            2. Vicarious religion provides evidence of believing without belonging as it shows a "tip of the iceberg effect." People are drawn to church in times of national tragedy (Death of Princess Diana)
                                                          2. Supply-led Religion
                                                            1. A range of studies supports Stark and Bainbridge and their view that the demand for religion is seriously influenced by the quality and variety on offer. Taking into account the extent to which the religion adapts to respond to members needs.
                                                              1. Hadden and Shupe - the growth of televangelism in America indicates that participation is supply led. The commercial funding of religious broadcast opened up competition in which the Evangelical Church thrived. This commercial enteprise meant televangelism repsonded to consumer demand by preaching a "prosperity gospel"
                                                                1. Finke - Lifting restrictions of Asian immigration into America allowed Hare Krishna and meditation to be established these faiths became another option which was popular with consumers in the marketpalce.
                                                                  1. Evangelical Megachurches - these Churches contain congregations of 2,000 or more people with most being located in either America or South Koera they are able to have lavish resources offering a vast range of activites to meet the diverse needs of their members.
                                                                  2. Late Modernity and Religion
                                                                    1. Hervieu-Leger - Spiritual Shopping and Consumerism
                                                                      1. Has a similar theme to that of Davie. There has been a dramatic decline in religion in Europe. A cultural amnesia, this loss of collective memory is the result of religious beliefs no longer being passed down from generation to generation. An increase in social equality has undermined the tradtional power of the Church; as young people don't inherit a fixed religious identity, nor is it imposed upon them. This means traditional insitutional religion have declined but New Age movements have blossomed.
                                                                        1. People have become spiritual shoppers as religion continues through consumerism. Religion is now individualised as people choose which elements they want to be apart of. As this consumerism has replaced a collective tradition, religion has become a personal spiritual journey. Hervieu-Leger identifies 2 new religious types as a response to this change
                                                                          1. Pilgrims - follow an individual path of self discovery E.G New Age spirituality organisations like mediation
                                                                            1. Converts - join these religious groups as they provide a strong sense of belonging, recreating the feeling of a community E.G Ethnic Minority churches
                                                                            2. Religion does continue to have an influence on society's values for example teachings which reflect the Human Rights Act. This provides social solidarity as even those not actively involved in religion still believe in these laws.
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