Religion in Modernity as a New Axial Age: Secularization or New Religious Forms?

Lambert, Yves
September 1999
Sociology of Religion;Fall99, Vol. 60 Issue 3, p303
Academic Journal
This article proposes a general model of analysis of the relations between religion and modernity, where modernity is conceived as a new axial age. Modernity appears to have four principal types of religious effects: decline, adaptation and reinterpretation, conservative reaction, and innovation. It produces secularization as welt as new religious forms, in particular: worldliness, dehierarchization of the human and the divine, self-spirituality, parascientificity, pluralism, and mobility. Two thresholds of secularization are distinguished: (1) autunomization in relation to a religious authority and (2) abandonment of any religious symbol. I conclude that the first threshold has largely been crossed, but not the second one, except in some domains (science, economics) or for only a minority of the population. This is because of the adaptation of the great religions to modernity, of fundamentalist reactions, and of the spread of new religious forms.


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