chapter  8
14 Pages

The twofold limit of the notion of secularization

ByDANIÈLE HERVIEU-LÉGER

Is there anything left to be said about secularization? For more than thirty years the subject has been so much discussed and written about that it would seem to have become distinctly tired, if not played out. Yet the debate remains open. Proper assessment of the changing contours in the modern religious landscape still awaits clarification of a major contradiction, which research inquiry has not so far managed to resolve. On the one hand, there is evidence of the continuing autonomization of the different spheres of social activity and the corresponding, though variable, decline in the social influence exercised by the major religious institutions that claim a monopoly of the symbolic organization of society. On the other hand, one can point to the astonishing vitality of beliefs, the renewal of forms of religiosity and the potency of the different religious traditions, which are invariably capable of nurturing the movements they give rise to.