Casanova, José-Religions, Secularisations, Modernities | Sociology

r e l i g i o n s, s e c u l a r i z a t i o n s a n d m o d e r n i t i e s * I u s e t h e plural morpheme for all three nouns because after reading these instructive books by two prominent British sociologists of religion, dealing with seemingly identical topics, one must ask whether it makes sociological sense to use the terms in the singular without further qualification. Both texts struggle with and help clarify th

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  r e l i g i o n s, s e c u l a r i z a t i o n sa n d m o d e r n i t i e s  * I  u s e t h e  plural morpheme for all three nouns because afterreading these instructive books by two prominent British sociologistsof religion, dealing with seemingly identical topics, one must askwhether it makes sociological sense to use the terms in the singularwithout further qualification. Both texts struggle with and help clarifythe plurality of ambivalent and even contradictory meanings attachedto the category of ‘‘religion’’, not only in ordinary modern usage butwithin our inherited sociological theories of religion. Indeed, BryanTurner and David Martin emphasize radically different conceptions of what they mean by ‘‘religion’’.Similarly ambivalent and contradictory meanings are built into ourusages of the related terms ‘‘secular’’ and ‘‘secularization’’. More thananybody else Martin has dedicated his life work to analyzing andilluminating the complex dialectics built historically into the relationsbetween Christianity and ‘‘the world’’ ( saeculum) , between the re-ligious and the secular, and particularly between post-axial transcen-dent religion and the immanent socially sacred. Coming on the hills of a major reformulation of his thesis,  On Secularization,  the recent essaysgathered in  The Future of Christianity  offer an updated and forcefulrestatement of central themes one finds in Martin’s life work. 1 Throughout the essays collected in  Religion in Modern Society , Turneroffers also diverse and at times contradictory meanings of secularizationas a socio-historical process, as he analyzes competing sociologicaltheories. When he presents his own theory of secularization, however,which serves as one of the central theses of the book, it becomes evidentthat Turner’s and Martin’s theories of secularization are worlds apart.This is particularly the case in the way in which their visions of secularization are bound with what Martin terms ‘‘dangerous ‘nouns * About Bryan S. T urner ,  Religion and Modern Society. Citizenship,Secularisation and the State  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011 ) and David M artin ,  The Future of Christianity. Reflections onViolence and Democracy, Religion and Secularization  (Farnham, Ashgate, 2011 ). 1 David Martin,  On Secularization: Towards a Revised General Theory  (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2005 ). 425 Jose C ASANOVA , Department of Sociology, Georgetown University [jvc 26].  Arch.europ.sociol.,  LII,  3  ( 2011 ), pp.  425  –  445  —  0003 - 9756 / 11 / 0000 - 900 $ 07 . 50 per art + $ 0 . 10  per page   A.E.S., 2011  of process’’’, like modernization, rationalization, disenchantment( Entzauberung  ), and globalization. The terrain both books cover issimilarly global. Despite the different emphasis, both texts discuss thesame world religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Confucianism,Hinduism and Buddhism. Moreover, some of the main themes arerelated: religion and politics, violence and the state, science and disen-chantment,self-expressiveindividualismandmodernity,nationalismandreligious pluralism. Yet one cannot but have the impression that Turnerand Martin are looking at different worlds from radically differentsociological as well as political-theological perspectives. Of course, sucha conclusion should not surprise anybody who has followed closely theprolific life work of these two prominent and influential senior Britishsociologists.Both books are full of theoretical sociological insights as well of richhermeneutic interpretations of contemporary global realities. Bothaddress head on, with much sociological discernment and culturalsensibility, some of the most contested global public issues of our times,particularly the meaning of the return of religion to the public sphereand whether this entails some kind of ‘‘secularization in reverse’’ or‘‘re-sacralization’’. Albeit for significantly different reasons, Turnerand Martin agree that notions of ‘‘global re-sacralization’’ or ‘‘de-secularization of the world’’ are problematic and misleading. Both arealso equally critical of the new discourse of ‘‘post-secularity’’. Bothwant to maintain certain components of the sociological theory of secularization as an empirically grounded analysis of relevant modernhistorical processes and resist the implication that secularization is justa European or a secularist ‘‘myth’’. Both seem to accept the propositionthat ours is a global ‘‘secular age’’. Yet both draw radically differentconclusions and offer different visions of the present vitality and thepotential futures of Christianity and the other world religions in ourglobal secular world. Turner’s radical theory of secularization as the end of the social  Religion and Modern Society  is most emphatically a rewardingsociological text, written to a large extent in critical conversation withother sociological texts, addressing key contemporary sociologicaldebates about globalization, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, con-sumerism, media and citizenship. Even though those are all hotly 426 jos  e casanova  contested public issues of wide interest beyond academic publics,Turner writes as a professional sociologist addressing primarily a socialscience academic audience. The book makes important contributionsto globalization studies, to the comparative study of world religions andto secularization debates.Part I addresses key theoretical analytical issues within the sociol-ogy of religion in critical conversation with classical and moderntheorists. Each of the chapters on E´mile Durkheim, Max Weber,Talcott Parsons, Mary Douglas and Pierre Bourdieu offers highlyoriginal interpretative reconstructions. Running across all of thema theme resonates that has been central to Turner’s life work, namelythe sociology of the body and the focus on ritual and embodiedpractices as being fundamental, indeed of primary relevance for anysociological study of religion.Durkheim’s emphasis on shared emotion and collective rituals,Douglas’ emphasis on bodily symbolism and body techniques, andBourdieu’s categories of practice and habitus are well known. ButTurner offers highly insightful reconstructions and applications of their theoretical insights to contemporary phenomena such as bodypiercing, fragmented urban ‘‘tribes’’ and what he views as irreversiblede-ritualization, which he considers a key component of modernsecularization. More interestingly, Turner offers an original thoughsomewhat problematic revisionist interpretation of Weber’s compara-tive studies in the economic ethics of the world religions not so much asa pioneering contribution to the comparative sociology of rationali-zation and the dialectics of ideal and material interests, but rather asa somewhat unconscious contribution to a comparative sociology of embodied piety, a theme which of course resonates within the contem-porary anthropology of Islam. Turner also recovers a central thoughneglected component of Parsons’ analysis of modern American society,namelyhistheoryof‘‘expressiveindividualism’’asakeycharacteristicof what Parsons called the ‘‘expressive revolution’’. Turner is correct inviewing the expressive revolution as ‘‘the modern framework for thelegacy of Protestant emotional piety’’, while simultaneously pointing outthat ‘‘romantic love is an essential component of the contemporaryconsumerethic’’(p. 71 ).Yet,againstParsons’rathersanguineliberalviewand following Alasdair MacIntyre’s critique of modern ‘‘emotivism’’,Turneremphasizesthenegativesideofexpressiveindividualismasamaincontributor to ‘‘the incremental erosion of the communal foundations of bothmoralcoherenceandreligiouspractice’’andthusasaprimarycarrier 427religions, secularizations and modernities  of ongoing processes of secularization, which Turner envisions mostdramatically as ‘‘the end of the social’’.Part II addresses key substantives issues at the intersection of processes of globalization, secularization and religious transformationsthroughout the world. Turner’s ultimate ambition is to generate whathecalls‘‘aglobalsociology[ ... ]ofglobalreligion’’(xiv).Byagenuinelyglobalsociologyhemeansnotmerely‘‘acomparativesociologyofglobalprocesses’’ that remains embedded in national paradigms. By globalreligion he means ‘‘the possibility of a generic religious consciousness’’whichneedstobedistinguishedfrom‘‘globalreligions’’,thatis,from‘‘thetransformation of existing religions by globalizing processes’’ (xiii).AccordingtoTurner,‘‘theemergenceofglobalreligiouscosmopolitanismmight be an example of the former and the rise of radical Islam andChristian fundamentalism examples of the latter’’ (xiii). But other thana fewsuggestiveremarksconcerningthe growth ofa globalhuman-rightsculturewithajuridical-institutionaldimensionthatencompasses‘‘humanrights, truth and reconciliation, international courts of justice, historicalmemory, genocide and the problem of evil’’(xxi), there is practically noelaborationinthebookofthisimportantDurkheimiandimensionofwhatcould be called ongoingglobal processes of sacralization.Subsequently, having downplayed the relevance of a comparativesociologyofglobalprocesseswhichcouldshowhowthesearetransformingtheexistingglobalreligionsortoexamineinturnhowglobalreligionsarerespondingtotheopportunitystructurescreatedbytheseglobalprocesses,itisnotsurprisingperhapstofindsolittlesustainedcomparativehistoricalanalysis of globalization and religion. One of the few exceptions is hishighly illuminating comparative analyses of authoritarian and liberalsecularstatesmanagementofreligiouspluralism.Moretypicalthroughoutthebookarethedetachedobservationsofaglobalcosmopolitanvoyeur,fullof critical sociological insights, practicing what Turner depicts as ‘‘cos-mopolitanvirtue.’’Cosmopolitanvirtueischaracterizedasapredispositiontowards dialogical critical understanding that Turner finds embodied inLeibniz.Itisinformedby‘‘ahermeneuticsofgenerosity’’andmovedby‘‘amoralimperativetolearnfromculturaldiversity’’(pp. 16 - 17 ).ButTurnerseestheneedtocomplementthisecumenicalcommitmenttodialoguewithreligiouscultureswiththe‘‘cosmopolitanskepticism’’ofMontaigne,whomaintains an unresolved tension between sympathy and the quest for justice(pp. 248 - 249 ).Moreover,suchacosmopolitanperspectiveoughttobe suffused as well with ‘‘cosmopolitan irony’’ and ‘‘the metaphysics of nostalgia’’ (p.  297 ), even though Turner himself indicates that ‘‘cosmo-politan irony is generally incompatible with nostalgia’’ (p.  253 ). 428 jos  e casanova
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