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On Secularization: Towards a Revised General Theory

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'Secularization' has been hotly debated since it was first subjected to critical attention in the mid-sixties by David Martin, before he sketched a 'General Theory' in 1969. 'On Secularization' presents David Martin's reassessment of the key issues: with particular regard to the special situation of religion in Western Europe, and questions in the global context including Pentecostalism in Latin America and Africa. Concluding with examinations of Pluralism, Christian Language, and Christianity and Politics, this book offers students and other readers of social theory and sociology of religion an invaluable reappraisal of Christianity and Secularization. It represents the most comprehensive sociology of contemporary Christianity, set in historical depth.

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'I have found David Martin's work tremendously useful and illuminating for my own reflections on modernity, secularization and Christian faith. I see Martin as having transformed the discussion about secularization, moving us onto a different track. Some of the latest fruits of his reflections are offered in this new work.' Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, McGill University, Canada 'This is a fascinating and challenging book from a leading sociologist whose reflections make a major contribution towards understanding the cultural dynamics of secularization. Martin's book will be essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the sociology of religion, religious studies, contemporary Christianity as well as scholars with a serious interest in these fields. This important and rewarding book will stand as a landmark study for years to come.' Jonathan S Fish, University of Leeds, UK '...an exhilarating tour round the contemporary (mostly Christian) religious scene, packed with sharp historical insights, illuminating reflections on the nature of religion itself, and indications of the systematic social pressures which once gave the belief in inevitable secularization its plausibility... no one seriously trying to understand the place and character of religion in the modern world can afford to miss this book.' Times Literary Supplement '... like everything David Martin writes, it's wonderfully lucid, drawing on his knowledge of conditions on the ground from Bucharest to Buenos Aires.' Christianity Today '... for those of us who have been shaped by [David Martin's] subtle and complex theories over the years, he remains a mentor.' Church Times 'Martin's new book brings into relief some of the critical sociological questions about religion in our day... he does provide critical concepts and insights for scholars of religion to grapple with such questions in the future.' The Hedgehog Review '... Martin provides interesting case studies of how trends in politics, culture, and the arts reveal various 'secularization stories'... [Martin's] intricate mappings of Christian expressions, undercurrents and outgrowths go a long way toward creating a geography of religion in the West.' Religion Watch 'The work of the distinguished sociologist of religion David Martin has had a profound influence on the way in which that discipline has developed in the English-speaking world, especially in the UK and especially with regard to secularization... This is a book that will become required reading for students working in the sociology of religion and scholars who are already acquainted with Martin's work will want to get this update to it.' Theological Book Review '... rich diversity of essays in this very welcome book.' Theology '... this collection is far more than a series of erudite contributions to a well-rehearsed argument. Every page and almost every paragraph contains a brilliant observation that will provide enough stimulation for a doctoral thesis. This not a meal to be consumed at one sitting: it is a very large box of exotic chocolates to be dipped into often and each intellectual taste explosion savoured slowly.' British Journal of Sociology '... the book gives many valuable insights into the relationship between religion and society... The book is also a very good guide for sampling the best countries to do comparative research in order to test competing theories.' Implicit Religion 'From David Martin we have learned how secularization works.' Sociology of Religion 'David Martin, rightly famous for his 'A General Theory of Secularization' (1978), here offers a series of essays that update and refine his earlier analysis... An important book.' International Review of Biblical Studies 'This outstanding book by a master craftsman is strongly recommended to all those interested in the contemporary world and the role of religion in this world.' Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 'Martin's writings always illumine, evoke and are perspicuous. On Secularization is no exception; it is a pleasure to read and a prompt to thought.' Religion

About the Author:

David Martin is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at London School of Economics and is Honorary Professor at Lancaster University, UK. He is author of more than twenty books, of which a key one was A General Theory of Secularization (1978), a foundational text, which shifted the debate towards the historical variability of secularization.

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