Revisiting secularization: Religion as implicit normative system
This chapter focuses on the ideal-typical description and comparison of modalities of culture and intergroup relations to the examination of the genesis and evolution of cultural systems. It attempts to illuminate the central role of the dominant religion in the constitution and maintenance of social life. The chapter looks at its contrasting effect on the cultural systems of Brazil and the United States. In the Weberian lexicon the concept of secularization or "disenchantment of the world" refers to the overarching, multifaceted process of societal modernization, itself originally spurred by innerworldly, ascetic religion. The sacramental aspect of Catholicism had immense integrative and normative importance for the population as a whole. In the United States the predominance of religion in social life, its role as "the guiding factor of the community", has been one of the country's most strongly distinguishing features. The categories of universalism and particularism have been introduced as conceptual poles that illuminate the dualism of Catholicism and Protestantism.