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3. Secularisation in Modern Britain

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In this lecture, we think about the empirical evidence on secularisation in modern Britain, focusing in particular on: (i) issues around defining and measuring secularisation and religiosity and Grace Davie’s work in this area; (ii) the evidence regarding the extent of belonging, behaving and believing, Davie’s three key areas of religion, in modern Britain; (iii) changes in the religious demographics of Britain in recent decades, particularly the growth of minority religions like Islam, and the impact this has on secularisation.


In this course, Professor Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University) explores secularisation theory and evidence around the decline of religion in modern society. In the first lecture, we consider three classical theories of secularisation provided by Auguste Comte, Émile Durkheim and Max Weber. In the second lecture, we focus on the more recent approaches of Peter Berger, Bryan Wilson and Steve Bruce. In the third lecture, we look at the empirical evidence around the extent to which religion has declined in modern Britain. Next, we think about some challenges to secularisation theory. In the fifth and final lecture, we look at an alternative approach to understanding religious change which argues that religion is not declining, but rather shifting from an institutionalised to a personal, spiritual form.


Professor Linda Woodhead is Distinguished Professor of Religion and Society at Lancaster University. She has written widely on religion in modern society. Her recent publications include That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (2016) (as co-author), Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (2014), and Everyday Lived Islam in Britain (2013) (as co-author).

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APA style

Woodhead, L. (2021, August 23). Secularisation - Secularisation in Modern Britain [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Woodhead, L. "Secularisation – Secularisation in Modern Britain." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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