Do Social Crises Cause Religious Revivals? What British Church Adherence Rates Show

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
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  • 1 University of Aberdeen
  • 2 University College, London

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A 2014 sociology of religion conference invitation asserted that it is ‘A long-standing assumption in the sociology of religion … that there is a correlation between religious resurgence and intense moments of political, economic and socio-cultural crisis.’ We test this proposition against various post-1900 British or uk church adherence data and find no evidence to support the claim. On the contrary, the trajectories of decline are remarkably smooth. We suggest that such smoothness better supports the sociological view of secularization as a long-run process with amorphous and deep causes than it supports the claim that religious change is a response to specific events.

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  • 1

     For a summary see Bruce 2012.

  • 2

     For a summary, see Young 1997.

  • 3

    Norris and Inglehart 2010: 3.

  • 4

    Malinowski 1961.

  • 6

    Bruce 2011.

  • 8

    Farndale 2008: 1.

  • 9

     For example, Nash 2004.

  • 13

    Traill Lyon 1993: 1.

  • 14

    1861–1971 Currie et al 1977: 140–142. 1981 Brierley 2003: Table 9.8; date actually 1980. The Methodist data before the reunion in 1932 includes figures for the various precursor Methodist bodies.

  • 18

    Currie et al 1977: 132–4.

  • 21

    Brierley 2011: table 14.4.2

  • 25

    Currie, Gilbert and Horsley 1977: 128–9, Church of England Yearbooks.

  • 27

    Ferguson 2001.

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