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Secularisation and Religion in Sociology

3. Secularisation in Contemporary Sociology

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we look at secularisation in the work of three contemporary sociologists of religion, focusing in particular on: (i) Steve Bruce, who has continued Wilson’s “strong” version of the secularisation thesis; (ii) Professor Davie herself, who supports Martin’s notion of secularisation as a context-specific process; (iii) Danièle Hervieu-Léger, who relates secularisation to the principles of the Enlightenment. We conclude by thinking about three events which have undermined certainty around secularisation and modernity in recent decades – the Iranian Revolution (1979), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), and the 9/11 attacks (2001).


In this course, Professor Grace Davie (University of Exeter) explores thinking about secularisation and religion in Sociology. In the first lecture, we think about the centrality of secularisation in the theories of three “founding fathers” of the discipline – Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim. In the second lecture, we examine the development of secularisation theory in the twentieth century, including the “strong” version outlined by Bryan Wilson and Steve Bruce. In the third lecture, we think about the context-specific approach advocated by David Martin and Professor Davie. Next, we consider global perspectives which challenge the idea of secularisation. In the fifth lecture, we consider whether it is necessary to rethink previous ideas about religion and secularisation. In the sixth and final lecture, we look at some important current trends and think about possible futures for religion.


Professor Grace Davie is Professor Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Exeter. She is a leading sociologist of religion and has written widely on religion in the modern world. Her publications include Religion in Public Life: Levelling the Ground (2017), Religion in Britain: A Persistent Paradox (2015), and The Sociology of Religion: A Critical Agenda (2013).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Davie, G. (2022, January 14). Secularisation and Religion in Sociology - Secularisation in Contemporary Sociology [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Davie, G. "Secularisation and Religion in Sociology – Secularisation in Contemporary Sociology." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Jan 2022,

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