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Religions 2018, 9(4), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040092

Secularization: The Decline of the Supernatural Realm1

Department of Sociology, Aksaray University, Aksaray 68100, Turkey
Received: 24 December 2017 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 22 March 2018
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Abstract

How to define and measure secularization is among the most fervent discussions in the literature on the sociology of religion. The perception of secularization only in terms of change in the social prestige and influence of religion has confined the discussion on secularization to a narrower perspective, both theoretically and empirically. This paper argues that the supernatural realm (of which religion is a part), rather than religion itself, should be at the center of discussions on secularization. Since the term “supernatural realm” is used as an all-embracing concept, the decline in the social prestige and influence of religion-like structures, folk beliefs, magic and so forth are also considered part of the discussions on secularization. This is because Abrahamic or official religions are not the only supernatural entities that have noticeable effects on the daily lives of individuals. The paper also maintains that to hold a discussion on secularization in a comprehensive manner, academic works require “a defined period of time and place” rather a single timeframe because secularization is not the description of a situation but the definition of a process. If secularization is defined as such, the frequency of prayers, the rates of going to church, or changes in the number of believers will not be primal in measuring secularization because of how the supernatural reflects itself on daily practices might be different in different societies or belief systems. Thus, the definition put forward in this paper, based on the supernatural realm, will enhance the understanding not only of radical secularization processes in modern Western Europe (and its offshoots) but also of the secularization processes of modernizing non-Western countries. View Full-Text
Keywords: secularization; supernatural; religion; religion-like structures; folk beliefs; magic secularization; supernatural; religion; religion-like structures; folk beliefs; magic
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Ertit, V. Secularization: The Decline of the Supernatural Realm1. Religions 2018, 9, 92.

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