Max Weber Lecture by Martin Riesebrodt, 15 January 2014, 17.00-18.30, Badia Fiesolana, Refettorio

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 Martin Riesebrodt

 “Religion in the Modern World: Between Secularization and Resurgence”




For many decades the master narrative in the social scientific study of religion has been the secularization paradigm. Scholars firmly believed that religion would play an increasingly marginal political and social role in modern societies. However, the global resurgence of religions and their politicization since the 1980s led to sudden conversions. Many argued that secularization had nothing to do with Western modernity but only with religious market conditions.

Presently, scholars hotly debate whether we witness secularization or a resurgence of religion. In my view, we are witnessing both: secularization and the resurgence of religion, and we should analyze them not as contradictions but as interrelated processes. In order to do so, we should revisit two basic concepts: religion and secularization. We need to break down the mega-concept of secularization into empirically observable trends and conceptualize religion in a way that helps explaining its resurgence.