Explaining religious vitality: Theoretical considerations and empirical findings in Western and Eastern Europe

  • Detlef Pollack


If, thirty or forty years ago, a social scientist had tried to determine the social position and development prospects of religion and the churches in modern societies, he would probably have relied on the secularization theory. This theory assumes that the modern age and religion are in a strained relationship, and that the more modern a society is, the less socially relevant religion and the churches become. Industrialization, tertiarization — the growth of the service industry — urbanization, increasing prosperity, higher education levels, greater mobility, rationalization, cultural pluralism, individualization — all these factors and whatever other processes are normally viewed as being typical of modernity have, so say the secularists, a negative effect on the continued existence of religion.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Berger, Peter L. (1973): Zur Dialektik von Religion und Gesellschaft. Elemente einer soziologischen Theorie. Fischer, Frankfurt/M.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, Peter L. (1980): Der Zwang zur Häresie. Religion in der pluralistischen Gesellschaft. Herder, Freiburg.Google Scholar
  3. Bruce, Steve (ed.) (1992): Religion and Modernization: Sociologists and Historians Debate the Secularization Thesis. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  4. Bruce, Steve (1996): Religion in the Modern World: From Cathedrals to Cults. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  5. Bruce, Steve (1999): Choice and Religion: A Critique of Rational Choice Theory. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. Campiche, Roland J. (2002): “Does Individualization still Constitute the Paradigm of Religion in Post-Modernity?” Unpublished paper, given at the conference “Europe and the invisible religion.” Zurich January 18–19 2002.Google Scholar
  7. Chaves, Mark / Cann, David E. (1992): “Regulation, Pluralism and Religious Market Structure: Explaining Religion’s Vitality.” Rationality and Society, Vol. 4, 272–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cipriani, Roberto (1989): “Diffused Religion’and New Values in Italy.” in: Beckford, James A. / Luckmann, Thomas (eds.): The Changing Face of Religion. Sage, London. 24–48.Google Scholar
  9. Davie, Grace (1994): Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without Belonging. Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  10. Gabriel, Karl (1992): Christentum zwischen Tradition und Postmoderne. Herder, Freiburg/Basel/Wien.Google Scholar
  11. Finke, Roger / Stark, Rodney (1988): “Religious Economies and Sacred Canopies: Religious Mobilization in American Cities.” American Sociological Review, Vol. 53. 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Finke, Roger / Stark, Rodney (1992): The Churching of America 1576–1990: Winners and Losers in our Religious Economy. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
  13. Hervieu-Léger, Danièle (1990): “Religion and Modernity in the French Context: For a New Approach to Secularization.” Sociological Analysis, Vol. 51. 15–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Iannaccone, Laurence R. (1991): “The Consequences of Religious Market Structure: Adam Smith and the Economics of Religion.” Rationality and Society, Vol. 3. 156–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Krüggeler, Michael (1993): „Inseln der Seligen: Religiöse Orientierungen in der Schweiz.“ in: Dubach, Alfred / Campiche, Roland (eds.): Jede(r) ein Sonderfall? Religion in der Schweiz. NZN Buchverlag, Zürich/Basel. 93–132.Google Scholar
  16. Krüggeler, Michael / Voll, Peter (1993): „Strukturelle Individualisierung — ein Leitfaden durchs Labyrinth der Empirie.“ in: Dubach, Alfred / Campiche, Roland (eds.): Jede(r) ein Sonderfall? Religion in der Schweiz. NZN Buchverlag, Zürich/Basel. 17–49.Google Scholar
  17. Lechner, Frank J. (1997): “The ‘New Paradigm’ in the Sociology of Religion: Comment on Warner.” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 103. 182–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Luckmann, Thomas (1963): Das Problem der Religion in der modemen Gesellschaft: Institution, Person und Weltanschauung. Rombach, Freiburg.Google Scholar
  19. Luckmann, Thomas (1991): Die unsichtbare Religion. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a.M. (Originally: The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society. Macmillan, New York 1967).Google Scholar
  20. Martin, David (1978): A General Theory of Secularization. Harper&Row, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Martin, David (1996): „Europa und Amerika: Säkularisierung oder Vervielfältigung der Christenheit — Zwei Ausnahmen und keine Regel.“ in: Kallschauer, Otto (ed.): Das Europa der Religionen: Ein Kontinent zwischen Säkularisierung und Fundamentalismus. Fischer, Frankfurt a. M. 161–180.Google Scholar
  22. Olson, Daniel V. (1999): “Religious Pluralism and U.S. Church Membership: A Reassessment.” Sociology of Religion, Vol. 60. 149–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pollack, Detlef (1998): „Religiöser Wandel in Mittel-und Osteuropa.“ in: Pollack, Detlef / Borowik, Irena / Jagodzinski, Wolfgang (eds.): Religiöser Wandel in den postkommunistischen Ländern Ost-und Mitteleuropas. Ergon, Würzburg. 9–52.Google Scholar
  24. Pollack, Detlef (2001): “Modifications in the Religious Field of Central and Eastern Europe.” European Societies, Vol. 3. 135–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stark, Rodney / Iannaccone, Laurence R. (1994): “A Supply-Side Reinterpretation of the’ secularization’ of Europe.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 33. 230–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tomka, Miklos / Zulehner, Paul M. (1999): Religion in den Reformländem Ost(Mittel) Europas. Schwabenverlag, Wien.Google Scholar
  27. Voas, David / Olson, Daniel V.A. / Crockett, Alasdair (2002): “Religious Pluralism and Participation: Why Previous Research is Wrong.” American Sociological Review, Vol 67. 212–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Warner, Stephen R. (1993): “Work in Progress toward a New Paradigm for the Sociological Study of Religion in the United States.” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 98. 1044–1093.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zulehner, Paul M. / Denz, Hermann (eds.) (1993): Wie Europa lebt und glaubt: Europäische Wertestudie. Patmos, Düsseldorf.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Detlef Pollack

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations