August 20, 2012

Editors’ Picks 4: The Secularisation Thesis

In this, the penultimate Editors’ Pick, David tells us why he chose his interview with Linda Woodhead on the Secularisation thesis as his favourite.

The secularisation thesis – the idea that traditional religions are in terminal decline in the industrialised world – was perhaps the central debate in the sociology of religion in the second half of the 20th century. Scholars such as Steve Bruce, Rodney Stark and Charles Taylor argued whether religion was becoming less important to individuals, or that only the authority of religions in the public sphere was declining. Data from the US and South America, however, began to challenge many of their basic assumptions. Professor Linda Woodhead joins us to discuss the background and legacy of the secularisation thesis.

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A transcription of this interview is also available as a PDF, and has been pasted below the original posting of this podcast. All transcriptions are currently produced by volunteers. If you spot any errors in this transcription, please let us know at If you would be willing to help with these efforts, or know of any sources of funding for the broader transcription project, please get in touch. Thanks for reading.