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Title: Towards religious polarisation in post-industrial societies? : mutations and effects of religious commitment in North America, Europe and Oceania
Author: Wilkins-Laflamme, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 3021
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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For over a century, many have been predicting the demise of religion within Western societies. However, while individual religiosity has mutated since the Victorian era, many studies since the 1960s have shown that the contemporary social realities of religion are complex and varied. More recently, evidence has been pointing towards a new development: one of a growing divide between the religious and the secular, or in other words of religious polarisation. The present research explores the logistics of how, where, when and why this polarisation has been developing in post-industrialised countries. In so doing, we thoroughly test a hypothesis that has long been an afterthought to many a secularisation theory. Analysing repeated cross-sectional data from a variety of national and regional contexts, we find examples of non-Nordic, mainly Protestant areas with higher initial rates of non-affiliation being characterised by a form of religious polarisation. These areas have seen a shrinking of their middle-ground group of nominally affiliated individuals, their populations splitting more and more into two camps: a larger group severed from institutional religion contrasts a small but proportionally steady core of affiliated individuals frequently attending religious services. Additionally, in areas with more advanced secularisation, average differences between these unaffiliated and religiously committed individuals regarding many attitudes, beliefs and personal practices are greater. Yet, these polarisation configurations and trends are not universally found across post-industrialised nations. Even within polarised contexts, social distance between the religiously committed and the unaffiliated has not necessarily grown. For example, levels of intermarriage and intercohabitation have not changed beyond the constraints of the marriage market. With these findings, we begin to establish the degree to which religious polarisation is becoming a new reality, and to what extent policy makers will have to contend with a new social cleavage along secular/religious lines.
Supervisor: de Graaf, Nan Dirk Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology