This book explores the secularisation paradigm and how it explains the displacement of religion from the centre of human life. It looks at the causal relationships between the social power of religion, the number of people who take it seriously, and how seriously anyone takes it. More specifically, it shows that the declining power of religion causes a decline in the number of religious people and the extent to which people are religious. It also considers the use of the secularisation paradigm to provide an overarching sociological explanation of the history of religion since the Middle Ages, focusing on Europe, the United States, and the developing world. By way of introduction, this chapter discusses the decline of Christianity, first in Western Europe and then in Eastern Europe, as well as types of religiosity and the link between modernisation and secularisation.
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