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Religion, spirituality and the social sciencesChallenging marginalisation$
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Basia Spalek and Alia Imtoual

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420411

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420411.001.0001

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Australia's ‘shy’ de-secularisation process

Australia's ‘shy’ de-secularisation process

Chapter:
(p.23) Two Australia's ‘shy’ de-secularisation process
Source:
Religion, spirituality and the social sciences
Author(s):

Adam Possamai

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847420411.003.0003

In many parts of the world, religion has entered the public sphere to such an extent that it has undermined the secularisation thesis — the assumption that religion would disappear in Western modernised countries. Some contend that secularisation is not declining; rather it is undergoing a much less extreme process than first predicted. Others contend that there is a reverse process and that secularisation is its losing momentum. In accordance with the latter view, recent theories in the sociology of religion have pushed the debate further by applying the multiple modernities paradigm. This paradigm suggests that various spheres of human activity are gaining autonomy, hence religion is pushed to the sidelines wherein it is no longer seen as an overarching system, rather as a sub-system alongside other sub-systems. In addition, the multiple modernities thesis also suggests that modernities outside of the Western world cannot be fully grasped with the same categories and concepts used in understanding Western modernities. In Australia, there is a specific modernity, and a specific process of secularisation and de-secularisation. This chapter argues that there is an increased decentralisation, pluralism, and voluntarism of religious life in Australia's specific modernity. This suggests that religion is not declining in Australia, rather it is finding a new vitality. It is argued that this phenomenon adds to Australia's diversity and the enrichment of its civil society. The chapter concludes by pinpointing Australia's specific de-secularisation process.

Keywords:   religion, secularisation thesis, modernities paradigm, Australia, modernity, secularisation, voluntarism, de-secularisation process

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