"The process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols." (Berger, 1967:107)

Berger, P. L. 1967. The Sacred Canopy. New York, NY: Anchor Books.


a.) Berger, P. L. 1967. The Sacred Canopy. New York, NY: Anchor Books.
b.) Bruce, S. 2002. God is Dead: Secularization in the West. Blackwell Publishers.
c.) Casanova, J. 1994. Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
d.) Norris, P. and R. Inglehart. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    Related Concepts  
The following Concepts can potentially capture some of the ideas of this theory.
Religious Behavior

Type and amount of religious actions an individual exhibits. Closely tied to the concept of religiosity, religious behavior focuses upon what individuals are doing in relation to religion specifically. The most commonly used measure of religious behavior is church or worship service attendance. Research shows that the act of attending alone exerts a powerful influence on individuals. Another religious behavior that can be operationalized is contributions toward religious activities or entities. Self-reported religious experience can also be used as a measure of religious behavior. This measure is less well-known and as such utilized less in research.

Religious Belief

On its most basic level religious belief refers to views toward the supernatural. Usually paired in research with measures of religious tradition and religious behavior, measuring religious belief allows researchers to gain insight into what respondents are thinking concerning the supernatural. One of the most common religious belief measures is whether or not respondents believe in God. A new strain of research is focusing not just on if individuals believe in God, but specifically what they believe God to be like. The images of God variables are used to create various scales that have proven to be highly predictive of attitudes and behavior. Probably the most common religious belief measure used in religious research is biblical literalism. This variable grouped with religious tradition and religious behavior is a common set of religious controls for any statistical model. Beyond these religious beliefs lie a less-used list of other beliefs. Belief in Hell, Jesus, salvation, Satan, angels, demons, heaven, or the "end times" provide a rich palate of possible research opportunities dealing with religious belief.

Religious Regulation

"The restrictions placed on the practice, profession, or selection of religion." (Grim and Finke, 2007:636)


The decline of religious faith and of the influence of the churches.

This concept refers to changes over time in the aggregate, not to data collected at one point in time or describing one individual person.

A common measure is the fraction of respondents to the General Social Survey over time who report having no religion.


A person who does not report a religious affiliation or does not belong to a religious organization, sometimes limited to people who do express religious beliefs.

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