This article examines recent debates about the ‘return of religion’ to the European public sphere. It argues that there is widespread confusion between religion being more visible and religion having more impact on contemporary societies. The article asks what the 'new visibility of religion' means, how religion is contested and renegotiated in the public arena—or rather, in different publics—and what the effects of these struggles are on society, state and religion itself. It does so by providing an analytical overview five distinct approaches to the new visibility of religion: desecularization, de-privatization and post-secularity; the effects of ‘welfare utopianism’ on public religion; religion as a social problem; religion as expedient; and the mediatization or publicization of religion. The article concludes that what we are witnessing is a ‘secular return’ of religion, where religion is relevant for public discourse only by virtue of being either problematic or useful.
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Østebø Marit Tolo HaukanesHaldis & BlystadAstrid “Strong State Policies on Gender and Aid: Threats and Opportunities for Norwegian Faith-Based Organisations” Forum for Development Studies40/2 (2013) 193–216.
CasanovaPublic Religions19–39. In later work Casanova has toned down even the connection between modernity and differentiation: José Casanova “Rethinking secularization: a global comparative perspective” The Hedgehog Review 8/1–2 (2006) 7–22.
Jürgen Habermas“Notes on a Post-Secular Society,”Sign and Sight(2008). [http://print.signandsight.com/features/1714 (accessed 16 September 2014); Michele Dillon “Can Post-Secular Society Tolerate Religious Differences?” Sociology of Religion 71/2 (2010) 39–56; Steve Bruce Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011) 203.
Lori Beaman“The Will to Religion: Obligatory Religious Citizenship,”Critical Research on Religion½ (2013) 141–157 at 146; cf. Gregor McLennan “Towards Postsecular Sociology?” Sociology 41/5 (2007) 857–870.
Adam DinhamFaiths Public Policy and Civil Society: Problems Policies Controversies (London: Palgrave Macmillan2009); Adam Dinham and Robert Jackson “Religion Welfare and Education” in Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto (eds.) Religion and Change in Modern Britain (London: Routledge 2010) 271–294.
Woodhead“Introduction”1; Linda Woodhead “Liberal Religion and Illiberal Secularism” in Gavin D’Costa Malcolm Evans Tariq Modood and Julian Rivers (eds.) Religion in a Liberal State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2013) 93–116.
Grace DavieReligion in Britain since 1945 (Oxford: Blackwell1994); Karen M. Anderson “The Church as Nation? The Role of Religion in the Development of the Swedish Welfare State” in Philip Manow and Kees van Kersbergen (eds.) Religion Class Coalitions and Welfare States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2009) 210–325.
Mehdi Hasan“What the jihadists who bought ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon tell us about radicalisation,”New Statesman21 August 2014. http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2014/08/what-jihadists-who-bought-islam-dummies-amazon-tell-us-about-radicalisation (accessed 17 September 2014).
Titus Hjelm“Paradoxes of Religious Legitimacy and Authenticity in an Age of Expediency.” A paper presented at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association, 24 April 2014; Titus Hjelm, “Religion, Discourse and Power: Outline of a Critical Agenda for the Sociology of Religion,”Critical Sociology40/6 (2014a) 855–871.