Modern Britain is now a secular society
- Pages: 2
- Word count: 423
- Category: Society
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A hot sociological debate is that Britain today is becoming more secular. One explanation for this is that we now have a more technological view, meaning we are looking for more scientific and technological reasons for why thing happen rather than religious or supernatural reasons.
This idea is supported by Heelas and Woodhead who found a large percentage of people who attend churches and chapels were there to engage in spiritual activities rather than religious ones.
However Davie argues that people privatise their religion by separating their belief from the need to express it by belonging to an institution. However Davie says that people aren’t secular as they still experience religion as a lot of people attend religious ceremonies to celebrate marriages and births and attend funerals at churches. Davie likes to call this believing without belonging – meaning that people aren’t becoming less religious they just like to believe without having to attend an institution.
Sociologist Leger put secularisation today down to spiritual shopping. Leger suggests that because children are no longer influenced by their parents and told what to believe they instead “pic n mix” religion – choosing bits which reflect their needs and aspirations.
In addition Stark and Bainbridge argue that religion isn’t declining and will never end. Stark and Bainbridge believe there is a cycle when institutions begin to decline it makes space for new religious movements which revise and renew people’s beliefs. Thus meaning people remain religious they just choose more up to date religions.
Functionalists such as Parsons would argue that we need to keep religion in order to make sense of our lives, this is all well and good but functionalists are widely criticised for their rose tinted view on religion.
Postmodernists in particular Lyon who came up with the theory of Jesus in Disneyland argues that the postmodern elements which are developing in society like globalisation, development of IT, and the growth of consumer society has led to people having greater choice of Gods. Meaning that religion is no longer a social institution but a cultural resource that we can draw upon if we wish too.
In conclusion there are many arguments against the fact that Britain is becoming more secular – instead the possible reasons for thinking so is that we believe without belonging and search for more scientific and technological explanations for things. However Stark and Bainbridge argue we will never become secular instead what we believe will change in order to revise and renew peoples beliefs. There are sufficient arguments for both Britain becoming secular and Britain remaining religious.