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«New Paradigm» in The Sociology of religion: Pro and Contra

E. D. Rutkevich, Candidate of Philosophy, Associate professor, leading researcher, ,
«New Paradigm» in The Sociology of religion: Pro and Contra.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2013. Vol. 4. No. 1. P. 207-233

This Article is downloaded: 907 times
Topic: Questions of theory

For citation:
E. D. Rutkevich. «New Paradigm» in The Sociology of religion: Pro and Contra. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2013. Vol. 4. No. 1. P. 207-233


The article looks at the so-called “new paradigm” in the sociology of religion, which emerges as a counterpoint for the secularization theories, or the “old paradigm”. S. Warner was the first to describe the changes that the sociology of religion is undergoing as a shift from the “old” theoretical paradigm, which has its roots in the European context, to the “new” paradigm, originating in the United States, a country that has a tremendously diverse religious history, which does not quite fit into the secularization theory. The “new paradigm” includes such elements as the rational choice theory and the religious economy theory. The conflict between the “new” and the “old” paradigm stems from different approaches to how religion should be approached and studied, different opinions on which trend is globally dominant (secularization or sanctification, increase or decrease of religious belief), debates on what is the exception and what is the rule (the religious America or the secular Europe), and so forth. The secularization trend is ceasing to be dominant, and within the trend itself, opposing opinions are beginning to take shape, through the review of old concepts and the rise of new, “milder” and more grounded, theories of neosecularization and countersecularization, which tend to converge with the new paradigm, for instance the rational religious choice theory or other similar theories. The old, stagnant theories are currently being actively reconstructed. We are witnessing a dynamic revival across the entire field of religious sociology, which is lauded by many stakeholders and can be seen as a highly positive factor. Even though there still are some staunch proponents of the “old paradigm” and consistent critics of the “new paradigm”, most sociologists believe that the European religious mindset should be viewed not as secularization, but as a shift from traditional to non-traditional approach to religion. Overall, European sociologists, even post-modern ones, agree on the core notions and assumptions, especially those concerning the “supply” offered by religion in response to the needs of its “consumers” and “seekers”.


new paradigm, rational choice, paradigm’ shift, religious economics, American religion, religious revival, desecularization, supply-side theory, religious market, revival

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