Bureaucratisation and Disenchantment

Part of the Contestations in Contemporary Southeast Asia book series (CCSA)


This chapter introduces the background and rationale for the book, through the application of salient concepts, ideas and preceding scholarship used in the framing of the study of religion, society and state. It is broadly about the transformation of Islam in contemporary society, enabled by the state. It explores key concepts of bureaucratisation, rationalisation and disenchantment; notions of bureaucratic power, secularism and modernity; and the oscillating nature of enchantment and disenchantment in religious expression. Epistemic concepts on bureaucratisation clarify debates about whether what is occurring in many Muslim-majority societies today is the disenchantment of religious life rather than a profession of non-rational religious faith. The chapter elucidates how the notions of disenchantment and secularisation can be used to study Muslim social life in Malaysia by employing Weberian constructs with respect to extensive processes of rationalisation and de-personalisation through religion. In its deeper, popular and everyday significance, disenchantment is not only about a condition of discontentment and disillusionment but also about the acquiescence and acceptance of those under the dominance of a specific form of power—the Divine Bureaucracy, which is the main focus of the book. A summary of subsequent chapters of the book is included here, all alluding to a sense that bureaucratic Islam may not merely be a variant of religious faith, but is the definitive Islam in the modern lives of Muslims.


Weber on state and religion Bureaucratisation Rationalisation Disenchantment Judicialisation Divine Bureaucracy 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Malay Studies and Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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