After Secularization (special double issue)   /   Spring/Summer 2006   /    Articles

In Search of Certainties

Danièle Hervieu-Léger

The “rational disenchantment” characteristic of modern societies does not mark the end of religion. It has not caused the disappearance of the need to believe—far from it. is assertion—which nowadays would sound self- evident—formed the starting point, thirty years ago, of a theoretical revival in the sociology of religions. It paved the way for a major re-evaluation of the secularization process, a task still far from complete. One point has now been established, however: it has become clear that belief proliferates in proportion to the uncertainty caused by the pace of change in all areas of social life. But we also know that it sits less and less easily within the dogmatic frameworks o ered by institutional religions. In societies that have adopted the autonomy of individuals as a principle, individuals create, in an increasingly independent manner, the small systems of belief that t their own aspira- tions and experiences.

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