2004
Volume 127, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

How has historical research on secularization evolved over the past half century? Focusing on British contributions, this article distinguishes three phases: (1) approval of ‘secularization’ as a useful analytical concept, (2) criticism of the secularization paradigm on empirical and methodological grounds, and (3) historicization of secularization as a mid-twentieth-century master narrative. Because all three phases focus on the of secularization narratives, this article advocates a fourth research phase, focused on the or of secularization narratives, especially outside the academic realm. With reference to the Sheffield Industrial Mission in the 1950s and 1960s, the article argues that secularization narratives not only have a dimension, but also a aspect. They not only explain the changing roles and functions of religion in modern societies, but also contribute to such changes, if only by providing frameworks through which people interpret their world. Accordingly, if historians want to explain why in the 1950s the Sheffield Industrial Mission called for radical transformation of ecclesiastical structures, or why in the 1960s staff members of the Mission disagreed on the course of action appropriate for communicating the gospel in a ‘secular’ environment, it is the use and impact of secularization narratives that has to be taken into account.

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2014-04-01
2021-10-20
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