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May 2, 2018 / C H Thompson

Postmodernism and religion

  • Vicarious religion – Davie notes a trend towards vicarious religion,
  • where a small number of professional clergy practice religion on behalf of a much larger groups of people, who experience it second hand
  • This is typical of Britain and Northern Europe where despite the low level of attendance in these societies,
  • many people still use the church for a rite of passage and rituals that mark a change of status such as baptism.

Bibby did a Canadian survey and found that only 25% attended church regularly. However, 80% said that they had religious beliefs and turned to religion for rites of passage. Even though they rarely attended church, they continued to believe in the supernatural.

  • Davie sees vicarious religion as evidence of believing without belonging
  • She argues that modernism affects every society differently, and argues that there are multiple modernities
  • For example, how Britain and America are both modern societies, but they have very different patterns of religion
  • Church attendance is high in America, but low in Britain
  • Her view is that religion will not be replaced by science, and that religion will in fact continue to coexist alongside science



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