ABSTRACT

Max Weber’s uses of ‘secularization’ is bound up with the idea of ‘disenchantment.’ In Economy and Society, he uses the words ‘secularization’ and ‘secularized’ in a range of ways. Weber, seems to be offering a ‘secularization thesis,’ in the sense that a society in which religion is relevant to every aspect of life gives way to one in which it can look like an optional extra. Secularization, Hans Blumemberg suggested, might be welcomed as a ‘clarification of fronts.’ And indeed, the whole section of Economy and Society on ‘religious ethics and the world’ sets the problem up in this way, only with the twist that Weber formulates the confrontation between religious ethics and the world using religious metaphor: ‘polytheism.’ The Division of Labour contains the most overt general claim about secularization in the sociological corpus: if there is one truth that history has incontrovertibly settled it is that religion extends over an ever-diminishing area of social life.