© 2016

Secularization Revisited - Teaching of Religion and the State of Denmark



Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE, volume 5)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Niels Reeh
    Pages 1-13
  3. Theory

  4. The Danish Road through Modernity – Transformations of the Sacred Canopy in Danish Schools from 1721–2006

  5. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 189-189
    2. Niels Reeh
      Pages 191-199
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 201-206

About this book


Since 2001, history has proven the classic and once dominant theories of secularization wrong. Instead of abandoning the subject of secularization, Secularization Revisited demonstrates how the collapse of formerly dominant secularization theories indicates fundamental conceptual challenges within sociology. This theoretical and empirical analysis argues that sociology of religion as well as sociology in general should pay more attention to the vital external and internal interests of the state, state-form and state-agency. 

In the first part of the book, Niels Reeh argues that inter-religious dynamics and state agency in particular have been neglected by the sociology of religion. Reeh then proposes a new analytical framework that can incorporate these two elements into the analysis.

In the second part of the book, Reeh applies the analytical framework and presents the first long-term historical sociological case study of the teaching of religion in a European state. His study of the political decision-making concerning the teaching of religion in Denmark from 1721 to 2006 reveals that the Danish state's interest in the religion of its inhabitants to have been dependent on the external relations of the state and the state-form. On this basis, Reeh shows that the changing state interest in the religion of its inhabitants is a crucial factor both behind the decline of the social significance of religion from 1720 to the 1990s, and behind its increase in the years following 2001. Consequently, Reeh argues that sociology should abandon unidirectional theories of secularization and instead shift to studies of historical religious change.

 The book is intended for students and scholars of religion, sociology, educational history and history in general (as well as the general public).


Historical Religious Change History of Sociology Regulation of Religion Relational Sociology Relational Theory of Religion Religious Education Secularization Denmark State and Religion Teaching of Religion Theory of Religion

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

About the authors

Dr. Neils Reeh received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Copenhagen. He has received several grants from the Danish Research Council and has been a one year visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton New Jersey and is currently Associate Research-Professor at the University of Copenhagen.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Secularization Revisited - Teaching of Religion and the State of Denmark
  • Book Subtitle 1721-2006
  • Authors Niels Reeh
  • Series Title Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies
  • Series Abbreviated Title Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-39606-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-81921-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-39608-8
  • Series ISSN 2214-5281
  • Series E-ISSN 2214-529X
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 206
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Religious Studies, general
    Sociology of Education
    Religion and Education
    History, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This work analyzes the agency of the state in a long-term historical perspective and presents religious education being constructed in the interest of the state. … Reeh’s work is important, innovative and interesting, especially as it is done on the subject of religious education in a long-term historical perspective. … Reeh’s work is important reading for students in religious studies as well as in education, not least for students preparing to become teachers in religious education.” (Kerstin von Brömssen, Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, Vol. 30 (1), 2017)